Snow Business: Irving Berlin's White Christmas Begins on Broadway

News   Snow Business: Irving Berlin's White Christmas Begins on Broadway A couple of song-and-dance men meet up with a sister act to make sparks fly — and snow fall — in the Nov. 14 Broadway premiere of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, based on the 1954 movie musical, at the Marquis Theatre.
White Christmas stars Meredith Patterson with Jeffry Denman and Kerry O'Malley with Stephen Bogardus
White Christmas stars Meredith Patterson with Jeffry Denman and Kerry O'Malley with Stephen Bogardus Photo by Joan Marcus

Following popular annual engagements in major markets throughout North America since 2004, Irving Berlin's White Christmas finally makes it to Broadway. After previews from Nov. 14, the limited engagement opens Nov. 23, sending audiences home on a cloud of famous show tunes (including that title number) by composer-lyricist Irving Berlin.

Critics in San Francisco, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, Los Angeles and St. Paul, MN, have called the Walter Bobbie-directed staging (with tap-happy choreography by 42nd Street veteran Randy Skinner) "Broadway-style" for the past four years. Its commercial producer Kevin McCollum and his partners agreed from the beginning, but bided their time before bringing it to New York City this year. They plan to make the show an annual event on Broadway, while continuing to produce it seasonally in other markets; separate productions are playing St. Paul and Detroit this year.

In order to make the limited run (to Jan. 4, 2009) of the seasonal, large-cast show economically feasible on Broadway, the producers asked for some concessions from unions and the theatre owner. Details were not made public. Extra performances were added to some of the weeks to accommodate expected high demand for tickets during the holiday season.

Due to ticket demand, two performances were added to the run — Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 at 2 PM.

Set in the 1950s, ten years after the leading men ended their World War II service, White Christmas "tells the story of two showbiz buddies who put on a show in a picturesque Vermont inn, and find their perfect mates in the bargain," according to producers. The show's score includes Berlin favorites "Count Your Blessings," "I Love a Piano," "Happy Holidays," "Sisters," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "How Deep is the Ocean" and more.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas stars Stephen Bogardus (as Bob Wallace, the role created by Bing Crosby), Kerry O'Malley (Betty Haynes, originated by Rosemary Clooney), Jeffry Denman (Phil Davis, created by Danny Kaye), Meredith Patterson (Judy Haynes, created by Vera-Ellen), Charles Dean (General Henry Waverly) and Susan Mansur (Martha Watson). The cast of 33 features Peter Reardon (Ralph Sheldrake), Cliff Bemis (Ezekiel), Sheffield Chastian (Mike Nulty), Melody Hollis (Susan Waverly), Phillip Attmore, Jacob ben Widmar, Sara Brians, Stephen Carrasco, Margot de la Barre, Mary Giattino, Anne Horak, Drew Humphrey, Wendy James, Amy Justman, Matthew Kirk, Sae La Chin, Richie Mastascusa, Jarran Muse, Alessa Neeck, Shannon O'Bryan, Con O'Shea-Creal, Athena Ripka, Kiira Schmidt, Chad Seib, Kelly Sheehan, Katherine Tokarz and Kevin Worley.

Bobbie is the Tony Award-winning director behind the smash revival of Chicago.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas has a book by David Ives (Is He Dead?) and Paul Blake, set design by Tony Award nominee Anna Louizos (In the Heights, Avenue Q), costumes by Tony Award nominee Carrie Robbins (Grease, Over Here), lighting design by Tony Award winner Ken Billington (Chicago, The Drowsy Chaperone, Annie), sound design by Tony Award nominee Acme Sound Partners (In the Heights, Spamalot), orchestrations by Tony Award nominee Larry Blank (The Drowsy Chaperone), vocal and dance arrangements by Bruce Pomahac and music supervision by Rob Berman.

(This creative team was part of the project since the 2004 initiation of the planned franchise. A world-premiere recording of the score, with cast members plucked from various markets — Brian d'Arcy James plays Bob on disc — was previously released by Ghostlight Records.)

The stage production is based on the Paramount Pictures film, written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas is produced by Kevin McCollum, John Gore, Tom McGrath, Paul Blake, The Producing Office, Dan Markley, Sonny Everett and Broadway Across America in association with Paramount Pictures.

Some performances in the run are already sold out.

Ticket prices are $66.50, $91.50 and $121.50 (including $1.50 facility fee), and are available by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

For group sales details and pricing call The Group Sales Box Office at (800) 223-7565 or visit www.bestofbroadway.com.

For more information visit WhiteChristmasOnBroadway.com.

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Ninety minutes prior to each performance of White Christmas, patrons will be invited to enter a lottery drawing at the Marquis Theatre box office for a limited number of $26.50 lottery tickets in the front row of the orchestra.

Winners' names will be drawn at random one hour prior to the curtain time for each performance. There will be a limit of two tickets per person, which can be purchased with cash only. Winners must be present with valid identification at the time of the drawing.

Beginning Nov. 14, the show will play the following unique performance schedule per week:

Week of Nov. 10
Friday & Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 7 PM, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

Week of Nov. 17
Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Tuesday at 7 PM, Sunday evening at 6 PM (Opening Night), Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2 PM.

Week of Nov. 24
Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

Weeks of Dec. 1 and Dec. 8
Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Tuesday & Sunday at 7 PM, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

Week of Dec. 15
Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Tuesday & Sunday at 7 PM, Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

Week of Dec. 22
Monday, Friday & Saturday at 8 PM, Tuesday & Sunday at 7 PM, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2 PM. Dark on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Week of Dec. 29
Monday, Friday & Saturday at 8 PM, Tuesday at 7 PM, Tuesday, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2 PM, DARK - New Year's Eve & Day Dec. 31 & Jan. 1, 2009. Final performance: Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.

<i>White Christmas</i> cast: Kerry O'Malley, Stephen Bogardus, Jeffry Denman and Meredith Patterson
White Christmas cast: Kerry O'Malley, Stephen Bogardus, Jeffry Denman and Meredith Patterson Photo by Joan Marcus
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