‘White Christmas’ on stage in Middletown today and through weekend

Based on the much-loved film, Rise Up Performing Arts is performing a musical adaptation of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the Sorg Opera House in Middletown this weekend.

“We have 50 performers who have worked hard to bring this classic story to life on stage. Audiences will be amazed at the quality of performances these young people deliver. They will be blown away by the excellent production they can see right in their community,” said Rodney Neal, director of the show and executive and artistic director for Rise Up Performing Arts.

Rise Up’s showtimes are 7 p.m. today, Dec. 8, 7 p.m. Saturday and and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Reserved tickets are $15 at riseupperformingarts.com and at sorgoperahouse.org.

Angie Neal, program director at Rise Up Performing Arts, said community members will be highly entertained with this holiday production.

“Everyone will leave the show feeling happy, uplifted and in the holiday spirit,” she said. “This show is such a classic. For me personally, it is my all-time favorite movie, not just favorite Christmas movie, and the music is timeless.”

Based on the beloved, timeless film, “White Christmas,” this heartwarming musical adaptation features 17 Irving Berlin songs and a book by David Ives and Paul Blake. Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters traveling to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former U.S. Army commander.

The musical score features well-known standards such as “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the perennial favorite, “White Christmas.

The Journal-News spoke with Rodney Neal in a Q&A to find out more about what’s in store for theatergoers as Rise Up Performing Arts brings “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” to audiences this season.

QUESTION: What are you excited about as far as bringing the show to the stage?

NEAL: Irving Berlin’s song “White Christmas” defines the idealistic Christmas. There is something magical about a snowy Christmas morning and the feelings that it invokes. The movie this show is based on is the gold standard for holiday movies and it is so exciting to bring that classic story to life on the stage.

Q: What are you enjoying the most about directing this show?

A: I love what we do at Rise Up. Our motto is, “We build characters from the inside out!” Watching these young performers grow in their skills and as people is the most rewarding part for our entire Rise Up team. I love the entire process of bringing a show to life on stage, but what I love the most is seeing how these young performers grow throughout the process. We demand and expect excellence and it shows in the quality of our productions. Watching them rise to the challenges of putting on a large-scale musical, and seeing their pride and confidence makes those long rehearsals worth every moment.

Q: Why did you want to direct this show?

A: As a director, I love to introduce the classics to a new generation.

Q: How have you seen the show come together on stage?

A: We have a good process in place for each of our shows and an excellent production team. The performers love the challenge of a big show like this and seeing their growth throughout the rehearsals is very rewarding. There are several large production numbers in this show and each one is a showstopper.

Q: Why do theatergoers not want to miss making the show part of their holiday season?

A: The holidays are all about spending time together with family and friends. You will leave the theater feeling uplifted and joyful after watching this classic. We are a youth theater company, but the level of talent and the quality of production far exceeds the stereotypical youth production.