Monday, November 24, 2008

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Catherine and I went to see Irving Berlin's White Christmas this weekend. How can you not absolutely adore Irving Berlin's White Christmas? It's musical theater fun for the whole family adapted from a classic Yuletide film! It's got all those great Irving Berlin songs: "Sisters," "Count Your Blessings," "I Love a Piano," and "Happy Holidays" and, of course, the title song! It's got beautiful people singing, tap dancing and... just being beautiful! It's got dozens of sets and hundreds of costumes that gorgeously evoke that brilliant MGM 1950s Technicolor look! It's got snow! No kidding: it's got SNOW!

How indeed...

It's not that anything is bad: it's just bland. The marketing campaign for the production really captured how I felt watching the performance: it's a snow globe live onstage. It's lovely to look at and, for a minute or two after it's all shaken up, it's kinda fun to watch the flurry of activity inside the thing. But it doesn't take long before I want more. Catherine thought it had a very corporate feel and I'd agree with that: all of the elements are in place but there's no inspiration, no passion behind the work. The songs are very prettily and very precisely sung but with little feeling: the emotion behind "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" shouldn't be the same as "I Love a Piano."

The dances are all expertly done, especially the tap numbers. The actors are fine, but a little generic for my tastes. The Marquis Theater has a ginormous stage and this production completely fills it many times over: I found myself wondering several times how all the incredible array of huge sets, drops and wagons were being organized and put into place backstage. In fact, when it comes right down to it, that's the show I wish I could have seen on Saturday: I can't imagine it's executed any less mechanically than what happens in view of the audience.

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