By Erika Brown Thomas
Broadway In Chicago presents the Equity tour of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a movie musical transformed for the stage with the all the trappings required of a classic Broadway musical; romance, tap dancing, and songs that make every patron want to sing along.
Based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, this musical has remained a holiday staple for over half a century. A complete synopsis of the show may be read here.
Sean Montgomery and Jeremy Benton play Bob Wallace and Phil Davis – a pair of military minstrels gone professional. Both Montgomery and Benton are able to claim the title of musical theatre triple threat – they can sing, they can dance and they can act. They play off each other and their respective love interests with charm. Montgomery, in particular, exudes an authentic, straightforwardness, that is perhaps lacking in the original 1950’s musicale.
Betty and Judy Haynes (Kerry Conte and Kelly Sheehan) are a sister song and dance duo navigating the ropes of show business and romance. Conte possesses a voice with a beautiful richness rarely heard on the modern musical stage while Sheehan shows off her dancing prowess in multiple big dance numbers. The well- known song and dance “Sisters,” complete with the anticipated huge blue feather fans, is enjoyable – both in the original number by Conte and Sheehan as well as the infamous gender-bendered reprise by Montgomery and Benton.
Conrad John Shuck (General Waverly), Martha Ziemba (Martha Watson), and Makayla Joy Connolly (Susan Waverly) comprise a familial trio working and living together at an inn in Vermont. Each member of this group has their moment in the spotlight; one with profound poignancy, while the other two go ahead and belt their hearts out – in not-so-subtle fashion.
The chorus members demonstrate their ability to meet the show’s demand for high quality dancers with a show-stopping version of “I love a Piano” and contribute to the festive atmosphere by creating seasonal tableaus and bustling about the stage in “holiday style.”
The songs, the set, the costumes and the beautiful snow all come together to breathe new life into Irving Berlin’s classic holiday musical, White Christmas. This show shimmers with novelty and nostalgia; family members of all ages will enjoy a lighthearted evening together at the Cadillac Palace.
Broadway in Chicago presents “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” through December 3 at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph Street, Chicago. More information and tickets are available here.