When the curtain goes up on the Walter Bobbie-directed show Nov. 20 at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts, Graham Rowat, a native Peterborough, Ontario, will play song-and-dance man Bob Wallace. Bing Crosby originated the role in the movie musical on which the stage show is based.
New York City-based Rowat will star opposite his American wife, Kate Baldwin, who'll play the Rosemary Clooney role of Betty Haynes.
They're no strangers to the Broadway-style production: They sang and danced their way through some of Berlin's most famous tunes ("How Deep Is the Ocean," "Count Your Blessings" and the title number, among others) in productions in San Francisco (2005) and Detroit (2006).
"I look forward to double-double coffees from Tim Horton's, introducing Kate to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and taking a short drive down the 401 — instead of a cross-border flight — to see my family for the holidays," Rowat told Playbill.com.
Ryerson Theatre School graduate Rowat appeared in Beauty and the Beast in Toronto and on Broadway. "I left Toronto ten years ago as an Egg-Beater and I'm thrilled to be going back with working arms and legs," Rowat said. He's currently appearing in the Harold Prince-directed LoveMusik on Broadway, singing the Kurt Weill-Oscar Hammerstein specialty, "Buddy on the Night Shift." He also toured in Les Misérables, appeared in Dracula on Broadway and played a season with Ontario's Shaw Festival.
Baldwin is a Helen Hayes Award nominee for playing Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, and has appeared on Broadway in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Wonderful Town and The Full Monty. She's currently Queen Katherine in Henry V at Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey.
White Christmas will play Toronto Nov. 20-Jan. 5, 2008. It marks the Toronto premiere (but also the Canadian premiere) of the property that has a libretto by Paul Blake and David Ives, with direction by Bobbie and choreography by Randy Skinner.
Single tickets go on sale Sept. 15. For more information, visit www.hummingbirdcentre.com.
"The musical tells the story of two showbiz buddies putting on a show in a picturesque Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the bargain," according to production notes.
The show has set design by Anna Louizos (Avenue Q), costumes by Carrie Robbins (A Class Act), lighting design by Ken Billington (Annie), sound design by Acme Sound Partners (The Boy From Oz), orchestrations by Larry Blank, vocal and additional arrangements by Bruce Pomahac, music direction by Rob Berman and casting by Jay Binder C.S.A.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas is produced by The Producing Office, Paul Blake, Dan Markley and Sonny Everett in association with Paramount Pictures.
The stage production is based on the Paramount Pictures film, written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank.