REVIEW: WHITE CHRISTMAS The National Tour
at the Denver Center
by Taylor Jo Oxley
White Christmas at the Buell Theater was not the wonderful holiday spectacular that you would expect if you are familiar with the 1954 film. When the script was adapted for the stage it lost much of the original plot and charm that made the movie into a holiday classic. The storylines are flimsy and a bit convoluted, making it a stretch to see the big picture.
Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton) were definitely the highlight of the show. The two have a great rapport on stage; laughing, dancing, and singing with natural, glowing talent. “Happy Holiday/Let Yourself Go” was the winner of the first act, with a tap number that was very well polished. It was mostly downhill from there.
The first solo from Betty (Kerry Conte), had too much vibrato making it difficult to understand the words she was singing. This was a trend for the actress throughout the production, making it almost painful to listen to “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me”. The saving grace of the number was the beautiful set pieces, costumes, and lighting.
Technically, this show was almost flawless. The lighting perfectly accentuated the vibrant set. The costumes were a visual treat; I applaud the detail put into all of the pieces but especially of those worn by Judy (Kelly Sheehan). Her shoes changed with every costume that she had! The orchestra was absolutely fantastic. They performed with grace and ease throughout the entire production. The only complaint technically was that the set changes lacked originality.
Another thing lacking originality was the choreography. It is clear that the choreographer, Randy Skinner, has a background in tap. All the tap numbers in the performance were fun-filled and exciting to watch. The rest of the show could have been choreographed by a college dance major. There was complete overuse of chaines turns and port de bras in every number. “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing” was a big disappointment; the energy was weak and the movement was even weaker. The same can be said for the Act I Finale, a very slow tempo “Blue Skies”. One win for choreography was “I Love a Piano”. This was arguably the best performance in the entire show. Despite the overall lacking choreography, the performers did wonderfully executing it, save for one red-wigged chorus girl.
The ending of White Christmas was picturesque; a lovely snow fall, with cast and audience singing the title tune together. If you know nothing about Bing Crosby and have never seen the film before, you might enjoy this show. If you are expecting to witness the vintage Christmas tale, save yourself a trip to the theater and just watch the movie on Netflix.