Snow on the Aisle! Berlin's White Christmas To Be Licensed to Resident Theatres

News   Snow on the Aisle! Berlin's White Christmas To Be Licensed to Resident Theatres A 2004-05 sensation in major markets may be coming to a theatre near you. Get out your muffler and boots.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the new stage version of the 1954 Hollywood musical, will be available for professional licensing beginning in August 2006.

The stage property had its world premiere in 2000 under the guidance of Paul Blake at the famed outdoor theatre, The Muny, in St. Louis. The show was further refined by Broadway producers Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller, and a fresh creative team, to be presented in San Francisco in 2004, and then in triplicate in 2005 — three concurrent Broadway-sized companies performing in San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles.

The 2004-05 production will play The Ordway in St. Paul during the 2006 holidays. (The scenic and costume elements will be pulled from storage. No other cities have yet been announced for the full Broadway-sized version.)

But in the 2006-07 season, smaller Equity theatres now have the option to stage their own productions of the show.

R&H Theatricals licenses Irving Berlin stage musicals, as well as works by Rodgers & Hammerstein and others, and is making Irving Berlin's White Christmas "available to our professional customers effective August 2006," R&H's Bert Fink told Playbill.com. The office is stressing that despite the title, Irving Berlin's White Christmas should be viewed as a show with year-round potential. (Indeed, it returns to The Muny this summer, July 24-30, just before the August licensing launch. In the Missouri heat and humidity, audiences can expect artificial snow on the aisle.)

Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre and The Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, FL, have announced their own resident productions of Irving Berlin's White Christmas for 2006-07. Local professional stagings might eventually include design elements rented from the McCollum-Seller production.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas, which has evolved beyond the earlier Paul Blake version that played The Muny in 2000, now has a libretto by David Ives and Paul Blake, based upon the Paramount Pictures film with a screenplay by Norma Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. Blake and Ives are authors of the licensable script, with a score by the late Berlin (drawing from the composer-lyricist's film score and trunk songs).

Walter Bobbie directed the 2004 and 2005 productions, which had choreography by Randy Skinner, set design by Anna Louizos, lighting design by Ken Billington and costume design by Carrie Robbins.

The musical concerns show-biz Army buddies who rally their comrades to support their retired commanding officer ten years after the end of World War II. In the process, the boys meet up (and fall in love with) a sister act — and they all put on a show (natch!).

Songs in the musical include "Sisters," "White Christmas," "Blue Skies," "Let Yourself Go," "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing," "How Deep Is the Ocean," "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me," "Snow," "I Love a Piano," "Count Your Blessings" and more.

A scene from the Los Angeles production of <i>White Christmas</i>.
A scene from the Los Angeles production of White Christmas.