It was two years ago I went to Bloomington, Ind., to visit friends and see some shows. I saw two really good ones: an all female version of “The Merchant of Venice” and the national touring production of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”
They were both so fine, both so memorable.
I had seen an earlier production of “White Christmas” that had lacked luster, so to say my expectations were low is more than fair. Imagine my surprise at how wrong I was, at what a delightful evening I had.
For the musical to succeed homage must be paid to the movie and it is. Such a classic demands certain scenes be reproduced.
However, it’s not a movie, it’s a musical, and many scenes must be modified to move to the stage without losing the precious protection many in the audience may feel for such a favorite.
All the elements making the movie so enjoyable are on full display, but added to those are big, bold dance sequences that crank the entertainment up a notch. Song after song are Irving Berlin blockbusters making it truly hard NOT to sing along — I urge you, do not sing along. OK, at the end the audience is invited to join “White Christmas” — then and only then feel free to cut loose.
It is impossible for me to imagine how many sets of sisters will be in those audiences with warm, sweet memories of their own rendition of Berlin’s “Sisters.” I’ll be sitting there with my sister and we will try desperately to NOT sing along.
It has the dazzle and wholesomeness of “42nd Street” and those old-Hollywood, Busby Berkeley tap productions. It feels old school, nostalgic and sweet, just how it should feel.
There must be solid singers in the cast to play Wallace and Davis and the Haynes Sisters, Betty and Judy. Because Vera-Ellen was such a solid dancer, it’s a given that the dance numbers should be stellar.
I was delighted. Added to the mix in Bloomington was Lorna Luft as Emma the long-suffering housekeeper and John Schuck as General Waverly. Nice surprise. I’ve looked and looked to see who is in this current touring cast, but nothing can I find. As recently as Chicago, Schuck was in the cast. Memory serves, he was very good.
Give in and keep on dreaming that the holidays could be so nice. Dare I write it, dare I say it — “may all your Christmases be white.”
There are eight performances (six evenings and two matinées). Ticket prices range from $30-$85 depending on which show you pick and may be purchased online at TPAC.org or by calling the box office at 615-782-4040.