The touring production of ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’ is a perfect early holiday gift for the


It is with good reason why Broadway shows (even the ones on tour) are considered the finest form of entertainment in the world. Take for example the returning visit of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas to the State Theatre at Playhouse Square.

This over the top lavish production has it all: singing, tap dancing, costumes, fantastic sets, great acting, ball room dancing, comedy, real snow...in fact the only thing that could possibly be missing from this show is a dog. This is the ultimate feel good holiday show that will kick off your festive spirit with a jingle.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1944, somewhere in battle torn Europe, Bob Wallace (David Elder) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton) are two World War II buddies who become friends while putting together makeshift shows for the 151st Division with the help of Ralph Sheldrake (Brad Frenette).

At the end of their impromptu show they are paid a surprise visit by General Henry Waverly who announces that he is being sent back to the states in order to “have some German buckshot moved from my carcass.”

Forward the clock ten years and the dancing and singing duo are stars of stage and TV while Ralph is the behind the scenes man of the wildly popular “Ed Sullivan Show.” Bob and Phil’s plan is to head down to Florida for a little R & R while rehearsing their newest Broadway spectacular. A telegram from an old army buddy, Mess Sargent Freckle-Faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy, postpones their travel plans with a request to check out his two sister’s, Betty Haynes (Kerry Conte) and Judy Haynes (Kelly Sheehan) singing at a local club.

Phil persuades a reluctant Bob to come along and after seen the sisters perform Phil falls immediately for Judy while Bob and Betty attempt to hold each other off at arms length. The girls are traveling up to Vermont to perform at a ski resort and Phil secretly changes the train tickets so that the four end up heading north to the Green Mountain State.

When they arrive, they find the inn to be run by none other than General Waverly who is having a tough time of it due to a freak heat wave that promises no snow. Bob decides to bring the entire company up to perform in the inn’s barn in order to bring customers to the inn as a favor to the General. Unfortuanately, his intentions are misconstrued through a partially intercepted phone call taken by the nosy housekeeper, Martha Watson (Lorna Luft).

This is truly one of those nearly perfect renditions of this holiday classic. The entire cast fits seamlessly together and talent abounds throughout. Even the role of Susan Waverly (Kyla Carter) the General’s visiting niece gets a wonderful solo number. As for the music, it is classic Irving Berlin with all the show stoppers plus a few added numbers not in the movie version.

David Elder and Jeremy Benton are perfectly paired as the two song and dance men as well as Kerry Conte and Kelly Sheehan as the two singing sisters. The chemistry between the four is electric. There are absolutely wonderful moments of stage performance, especially the dance numbers that include tap dancing that is a marvel to behold and a lost art. Conrad John Schuck is perfect as the tough as nails General with a heart of gold.

As for the stage sets by Anna Louizos, the eleven different scenes are a tribute to the science of theater as they are moved quickly and silently into place. Most notable are the Columbia Inn lobby, the barn, Jimmy’s Back Room, the train car, the Regency Room in New York City and the Finale winter scene. They are absolutely sumptuous. Ken Billington’s lighting design perfectly sets the mood for each scene and Keith Caggiano’s sound design manages to tame the labyrinth space of the State Theatre. The show is expertly directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner.

This show is a perfect early Christmas gift for the entire family as nothing has been spared in this lush production filled with nostalgia and great show tunes. With a short run of only four remaining performances you need to order tickers NOW! This is the ultimate feel good show of the season.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas runs through December 1, 2019 in the Key Bank State Theatre at Playhouse Square. For information and tickets visit www.playhousesquarre.org, call (216)241-6000 or stop by the Playhouse Square Ticket Office located in the outer lobby of the Key Bank State Theatre.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.