With Christmas less than a month away, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard the late crooner Bing Crosby belting out Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” on an all-holiday music radio station or streaming service. There’s an even better chance that you’ve found yourself singing along. After all, it is a holiday perennial. Written by Irving Berlin, one of America’s most successful and prolific songwriters for the 1942 movie “Holiday Inn,” the song topped the charts for 11 consecutive weeks.
…a fabulous way to kick off the holiday season.…spectacular!
A little more than a decade later, the song was already a holiday classic when it served as served the title track for another Hollywood hit, starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen. In 2000, playwrights David Ives and Paul Blake adapted “White Christmas” for the stage. Large and small audiences worldwide have come to love the kitschy, feel-good live production. Now, Classic Theatre of Maryland has brought “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical” to life on the Annapolis stage.
The film “White Christmas” and this musical have similar, but not identical plots. In both, Army buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis put on a show to save their former commanding officer from financial ruin while romancing the equally talented Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy. As is often the case, those who resist love the most fall the hardest, but not without first experiencing a misunderstanding that threatens to drive them apart.
Under the direction of Sally Boyett, this show is a fabulous way to kick off the holiday season. The choreography is high-energy, the costumes are beautiful, the theater is intimate, and the music is the best of Irving Berlin. The overall effect is spectacular!
Neil Devlin leads this talented ensemble cast as hard-working producer, singer, and businessman Bob Wallace. Jake Daley stars as his matchmaking sidekick, Phil Davis. Madeline Sparkes and Audrey Ella Garland are tap-dancing sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes, who are looking for their big show-biz break. All four principal players are seasoned performers making their Classic Theatre of Maryland debut.
John Pruessner plays retired General Waverly, now the owner of a Vermont Inn amidst a heat wave. Christine Asero shines as the general’s meddling, but well-meaning housekeeper, Martha. Miranda Kvedys is the general’s precocious granddaughter, Susan, and Dexter Hamlett is handyman Ezekiel Foster. All give outstanding performances.
The acting, dancing, and singing are evenly superb throughout the production. Some of the most memorable musical numbers include Devlin and Sparkes’ duet, “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep);” “Let Me Sing and Be Happy,” first by Asero and reprised by Kvedys; “I Love A Piano” by Daley and Garland, and of course, “White Christmas” by the ensemble, but featuring a solo by Devlin.
Classic Theatre of Maryland’s production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical” is pure, light-hearted fun sure to put even the grinchiest in the holiday spirit.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical” runs through December 24, 2023 at Classic Theatre of Maryland, 1804 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. For more information and tickets, go online.