Count your blessings because there’s plenty of time to savor the Americana within La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s production of Irving Berlin’s sweet and tuneful musical “White Christmas,” which continues through Dec. 31 in Springboro.
Based on the 1954 film and adapted for the stage in 2008 by David Ives and Paul Blake, the show concerns a pair of World War II veterans who follow a pair of singing sisters to their Christmas show at a cozy Vermont lodge. The joyous numbers include “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” “Sisters,” “Let Yourself Go,” and the heartwarming title tune.
“This show has a lot of charm,” said director/choreographer Chris Beiser. “The song ‘White Christmas’ particularly strikes the heart of many. So many of us this time of year begin to dream of a white Christmas, which has become a common statement people wish for. The show also has a distinct military feel considering part of the story deals with the leading men trying to help out their retired general. The score, which includes ‘Snow,’ ‘Happy Holiday’ and ‘Sisters,’ is really beautiful as well. All of these combined elements make ‘White Christmas’ a nostalgic classic. It speaks to the way things used to be.”
“White Christmas” has been previously staged twice by La Comedia, but will be helmed for the first time by Beiser, who insists on keeping the show grounded in its 1950s origins.
“This show isn’t contemporized,” Beiser said. “This is not a modernized version. It’s ‘White Christmas’ as audiences would remember ‘White Christmas.’ We’re keeping the show in its classic nostalgic context. And even though we’ve done the show before, we have a completely new cast. They are extremely talented and many of them are from New York.”
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Respectively stepping into roles made famous by Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen are Austin Adomits as Bob Wallace, Caleb Michael as Phil Davis, Mica Dominguez-Robinson as Betty Haynes, and Marjie Shrimpton as Judy Haynes. Adomits, who has appeared in “Man of La Mancha” and “Les Misérables,” will begin medical school at Tulane University next year. Michael’s credits include “Altar Boyz,” “Avenue Q” and “West Side Story.” Dominguez-Robinson’s regional credits include “Hello, Dolly!” and “My Fair Lady” as well as portraying Michaela in “Carmen” with Boulder Symphony Orchestra. Shrimpton, a Barnard College alumna with a B.A. in dance and human rights, was a featured jazz singer at the Museum of the City of New York earlier this year. All four are making their La Comedia debuts.
“The cast is full of wonderful dancers and especially tap dancers,” Beiser added. “Caleb and Marjie particularly tear up the stage during ‘The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing.’ Their ballroom (skills) are worthy of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
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“White Christmas” serves as a fitting conclusion to La Comedia’s diverse 2018 season, which notably included an outstanding, vocally thrilling production of “The Color Purple.” Still, Beiser says the organization is preparing to switch gears and present more family-friendly options throughout 2019. The promising lineup will feature “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Shrek,” “Elf: The Musical,” and the local premiere of “Newsies” among others.
“In 2018, we tried to offer some new and different shows such as ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ two shows one wouldn’t necessarily expect to be considered as dinner theatre,” Beiser said. “But we’re going for more family shows in 2019 specifically due to the 25th anniversary of the Atkins family owning La Comedia. We wanted 2019 to have a strong family theme although we still want to bring in a new audience while keeping the old audience.”
IF YOU GO
What: Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"
Where: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro
When: Through Dec. 31; Wed-Sun evenings and matinees; Arrival times: 5:30-6 p.m. evenings, 10:30-11 a.m. matinees
Cost: $30-$75; All tickets discounted $10 Dec. 28-30; All seats $98 for special New Year's Eve Bash
Tickets: Call 1-800-677-9505 or visit lacomedia.com
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