It is snowing inside Fort Worth's Bass Hall, and it's delightful! The touring production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas The Musical has made it's way into cowtown and it's right on time.
I am embarrassed to admit that my knowledge of the movie White Christmas (on which this production is based) is limited to the number “Sister's” I have seen it performed by many a drag queen duo through the years. I was amused that when this number was performed and I found myself singing along and knew every word in spite of the fact I have never seen the movie.
White Christmas the movie, was released in 1954 and was the first movie released in “VistaVision”. The movie studios were feeling a lot of pressure from lagging ticket sales due to a little invention called the television, so they kept coming up with more and bigger ideas to draw people back to the theaters. These innovations typically involved adding brighter and more vibrant colors or bigger screens. VistaVision was an attempt at a much bigger screen, a technology that was gone after seven years, but this production keep the spirit alive with a bigger, brighter and more vivid Broadway show.
The story follows a couple of young entertainers serving in Europe during WWII. They return after the war to a successful career touring as a duo. Through a series of plot twists the pair end up in the hotel of their former General, with a pair of sisters, who have their own successful act.
The General is on the verge of losing his hotel, he was an amazing general, but not much of a business man. Further, the General is unaware of the impending doom, because the hotel manager has been hiding all the past due bills from him. What to do? This is based on a 1954 movie. There is only one thing to do. You put on a show in the barn!
Hokey? A bit, but it was nice to go back to a simpler time if only for a few hours. While the storyline may be a bit old hat, this production is anything but. I have never before seen a perfect production, that is until now. I often find that the movie to stage transformation loses something in translation, here I felt like I was on an MGM soundstage just in front of the cameras watching a big budget musical being filmed.
This production was put on with such precision I felt like the movie was coming to life before my eyes. But a movie has the benefit of retakes and editing, luckily all that was done before we arrived, and we were the beneficiaries of a flawless production. Attention was paid to every detail in every facet of the show. From the costumes to the sets, from hair and make up to choreography, everyone here is at the top of their game. Without a doubt this is the most cohesive show I have seen. The Sets were big and bold without taking focus off of the actors. The costumes took you back in time with colors as vivid as VistaVision. The choreography was spot on.
It was a delight to see true old fashioned big production number tap dancing. So many shows try to pepper in a bit of tap dancing and it is usually passable at best. Here it was not forced. It was another addition the the brilliance. The cast was so good it is easy to lose yourself in the story. This is truly an ensemble cast, everyone shines.
I was especially fond of Ruth Williamson as the Generals' Innkeeper. I have been a fan of her work from TV (Monk, The Practice, Nip/Tuck) to the Movies (The Producers, Legally Blonde 2, Evan Almighty) and of course the stage (La Cage aux Folles, Guys & Dolls). Watching her in this role reminded me of the sassy but so loveable character Ida played by Eve Arden in Mildred Pierce.
Be sure and cross the street to The Cupcakery during intermission or after the show. The recently opened sweet spot offers the perfect nosh to finish the night. The staff is delightful and the cupcakes are decadent.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas plays Bass Hall through Sunday. Tickets are $27.50 to $110.00 and are available at http://www.basshall.com/ Don't miss some of the upcoming shows at Bass Hall Young Frankenstein, The Blue Man Group, Mary Poppins, Spamalot and more. They are offering some great packages for as few as three shows. And as if that weren't enough Dixie's tuperware Party is coming back. You have never been to a Tupperware party like this, and yes it's a real tupperware party! If you have never seen Dixie it is a must!
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