I have never seen Irving Berlin's White Christmas, but I certainly knew the classic musical numbers like "Blue Skies," "Happy Holiday," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "How Deep is the Ocean" and the title tune. I just didn't realize that all of them were from this show. The director Dan Checovetes writes that "there is something about this musical..that just pulls the holiday cheer right out of you. The costumes, the dancing, the singing...they all join forces to really bring up your spirits, and put you in a joyous holiday mood if you aren't already in one."
The Thomaston Opera House (TOH) was decked out for Christmas on opening night and the house wasn't full, but the audience made up for the lack of size with enthusiasm. We had wonderful complimentary seats in the second row on the side and the first row was empty. The amazing Juan was playing Christmas tunes on the pipe organ. For the show, the smallish orchestra under the direction of Holly J. McCann, sits on the floor in front of the stage and sounded amazing.
Set in 1944, veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two iconic song-and-dance men, follow a sister act to Vermont, only to discover that the near-bankrupt lodge they were to perform at is owned by their former commanding general. So yes, it is a Christmas show, but there is much more to the plot. With this amazing cast, lovely costumes by Barbara Piscopo, a great set designed by Gary Kingsbury, and awesome tap and jazz ensemble and the wonderful pit singers and orchestra, Landmark has put together a great show for any time of the year.
Bret Bisaillon, making his Landmark debut, plays Bob Wallace and is a natural. The always charming Moses Beckett plays Phil and demonstrates that he is an amazing tap dancer in addition to all his other talents. The sisters in the sister act are played by two triple threats, Jenna Jacobs as Betty and Lauren Sherwood (Rose in Bye Bye Birdie) as Judy. Pat Hearn (Avenue Q) puts just the right amount of army into the General and the wonderful Jeannine Gallmeyer returns to the TOH to play the woman who runs the inn.
Young Lily Thompson (daughter of TJ Thompson and recently Little Cosette in Le Miz) is an adorable granddaughter of the General and Mark Rees is a man of few words Ezekial Foster. Connor Dunn (Harry MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie) plays Scooter and Katie Brunetto and Caitlin Barra play dancers Rita and Rhoda. Doreen Lopez ably handles several roles. Rob Girardin (the lead in Footloose) returns to cover Ralph Sheldrake and Mike the (very loud) Stage Manager.
The costumes are not the red fur trimmed ball gowns that I have seen in promotions for this show, but they are equally festive and period appropriate. The tap/jazz ensemble wear the best ensembles. The gentlemen were dashing and the wigs for the ladies flattering.
I recommend this final production of the year at the TOH as a great way to kick off your holiday season.