Flashing back to 1954, few movies were able to melt the snow faster than “White Christmas,” the year’s highest grossing silver screen blockbuster starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Considering it’s been an annual favorite ever since, it’s somewhat surprising the Irving Berlin musical didn’t come to the stage until 2004, switching between time on tour, Broadway, West End, and currently, a residency at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace directed by William Osetek.
However, the nostalgic show’s real ace in the hole is Berlin’s timeless songbook, including “Happy Holiday,” “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings (Instead Of Sheep),” and of course, the title track, which sends Drury Lane visitors of any age home with wishes for a Christmas that’s nothing sort of merry, bright and white.
Though no cast on earth could ever match the star power of the original quartet, Sean Allan Krill (Bob Wallace), Matt Raftery (Phil Davis), Gina Milo (Betty Haynes) and Erika Stephan (Judy Haynes) have an obvious respect for the classic script and soundtrack, not to mention an affectionate chemistry with one another. And rather than trying to make a modern statement, “White Christmas” simply seeks to recall a bygone era, chronicling the simpler times of two former Army pals turned Broadway actors vying for two sisters performing at a Vermont lodge (that just so happens to be owned by their old commanding officer).
Naturally, it’s the perfect storm for shenanigans (romantic and otherwise), but no amount of showtunes or laughs can cure one major problem when it comes to the actual weather outside. With an unusually warm season and not a single flake of snow for skiing, business goes from bad to worse, prompting the couples in courting to cook up a variety hour in hopes of enticing more guests.
Though it almost never happens after a crazy mix-up, thankfully the entertainment is enough to start turning the tides (and warrant Tony Award nominations for “Best Orchestrations” and “Best Choreography” in real life). However, the nostalgic show’s real ace in the hole is Berlin’s timeless songbook, including “Happy Holiday,” “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings (Instead Of Sheep),” and of course, the title track, which sends Drury Lane visitors of any age home with wishes for a Christmas that’s nothing sort of merry, bright and white.
Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” continues at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace through January 3. For more information, visit DruryLane.com.