White Christmas, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, is based on the 1954 movie of the same name. Brandt Blocker directed a splendid cast and brought the post-World War II fable to life with such exuberance, one hardly noticed the slimness of the plot or the three hours it took to unfold.
The show starts with a Christmas celebration presented by some soldiers for fellow GIs. The Yuletide cheer takes place near the front line, but a greater danger to sanguine spirits comes from Gen. Henry Waverly (Dane Rhodes), a tough old martinet with a bad leg, a cane and a heart warmer than he wants anyone to know. His harrumphing fools no one, especially not the audience.
The story flashes forward to the completion of the war, when the boys are back home. Two soldiers who led the war-front entertainment, Bob (Kasey Marino) and Phil (Richard Arnold), have become singing and dancing show-biz stars. They meet the nightclub sister act of Betty (Ashley Smetherman Lemmler) and Judy (Julie Tolivar). After some confusion, the men, who were meant to perform in Miami, follow the sisters to an inn in Vermont, where the temperature is in the 70s and there's no snow. A slow season could put the inn out of business, but it's a disaster with a curious emotional twist, since the inn is owned by retired Gen. Waverly.
So the men court the women, and they rehearse a show to stage at the inn. They even enlist far-flung vets from their old unit to give aid and comfort to their beloved curmudgeon of a commanding officer. If this sounds a little maudlin, keep in mind the show is built around classics like "Blue Skies," "White Christmas" and "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm." Jauné Buisson choreographed the inventive dance numbers.
The apt scenery by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay and the pleasing costumes by Linda Fried contributed to a sharp, professional production. Heidi Junius (Martha Watson) performed with what Federico Garcia Lorca called "duende" (an indefinable electricity), and Rachel Laufer (Susan Waverly) performed with pint-sized bravado. — Dalt Wonk