There is nothing better to put one in the holiday mood than a lovely show filled with music and charm produced at a theater decorated lavishly with a huge tree, garlands, and lights galore. Add to that a snowy evening and a view of Rice Park with thousands of twinkling white lights. All of this sets the stage for the Ordway’s production of White Christmas.
White Christmas is the story of two Army buddies, Bob and Phil, who find post-WWII success as show producers. It’s December 1954 and a set of circumstances brings them to an inn in Vermont with a sister act, hoping for some snow and relaxation. It turns out that the inn is owned by their retired Army general. There’s no snow, and therefore no business at the inn, so a plan is hatched to rehearse their new Broadway show at the inn and to surprise the general with a reunion of his troops. There are complications, misunderstandings, and romance —all ending with that longed-for white Christmas.
The Ordway’s White Christmas features spectacular choreography, tap dancing, and singing by an ensemble that seems to have endless energy. The 21 musical numbers written by Irving Berlin incorporate many favorites from the original 1954 movie (“Count Your Blessings,” “Sisters,” “Snow,” “We’ll Follow the Old Man”) with songs written specifically for the stage production — and, of course, “White Christmas,” written by Irving Berlin more than 75 years ago.
Unfortunately I felt underwhelmed by the show as a whole. I thought the casting missed the mark when choosing Brian Sostek as Phil Davis and James Detmar as General Waverly. Detmar felt too young to be a retired general, and Sostek’s height in comparison to Dieter Bierbrauer (playing Bob Wallace) was distracting. (Of course, I’ve probably watched the movie White Christmas close to a hundred times so I’m probably more sensitive to this type of thing than most of the audience will be.) The costumes, designed by Carrie Robbins, felt more garish than festive at times, and at other times felt too drab; and the addition of Richard Ooms’s comic character Ezekiel Foster felt unnecessary and a distraction from the story.
With all that being said, my daughter, who saw the show with me, felt that it delivered all that it promised and more. So go back to my opening paragraph and know that the Ordway’s White Christmas will provide you with a magical evening — which is really what we are looking for during the holiday season.