Will White Christmas Jingle Its Way Back to Broadway in 2009?

News   Will White Christmas Jingle Its Way Back to Broadway in 2009?
 
Telecharge is teasing its potential group sales customers that Irving Berlin's White Christmas will make a comeback for the 2009 holiday season.
Kerry O'Malley and Stephen Bogardus in White Christmas.
Kerry O'Malley and Stephen Bogardus in White Christmas. Photo by Richard Feldman

A calendar at Telecharge.com indicates that the Tony Award-nominated show, first developed in regional markets for popular annual appearances, will resurface for a second consecutive season on Broadway starting Nov. 13 at a theatre to be announced.

The producers have not officially announced the limited engagement, but producing partner Kevin McCollum told Playbill.com earlier this year that he was encouraged by the audience approval and healthy grosses for the 65-performance run at the Marriott Marquis in 2008-09. He said he hoped contracts could be ironed out and that a theatre would be available for a return in the future.

The musical comedy is based on the film of the same name and, under the direction of Walter Bobbie, the show (with songs by Irving Berlin) boasts vibrant colors and tap-happy choreography along the lines of 42nd Street. (Randy Skinner, a choreographer of the original 42nd Street, was nominated for a 2009 Tony Award for Best Choreography for his work on White Christmas.)

The tale of a couple of song-and-dance men who meet up with a sister act to make sparks fly — and snow fall — is based on the beloved 1954 movie musical that starred Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. The Broadway debut of White Christmas opened Nov. 23, 2008, after previews from Nov. 14 at the Marquis. The show played 12 previews and 53 regular performances, ending Jan. 4, 2009.

* Following popular annual engagements in major markets throughout North America since 2004, Irving Berlin's White Christmas finally made it to Broadway.

Larry Blank was 2009 Tony-nominated for Best Orchestrations for his work on White Christmas.

"It surpassed our expectations," producer Kevin McCollum told Playbill.com in January 2009. "We knew we had a great show. What's clear is that people were thirsty for a musical about a sensibility that is still a big part of America: Taking care of your family, your community, keeping your word and falling in love — and a great score."

McCollum said he "would love to bring the show back to Broadway" in the future, but certain business factors — including availability of a theatre, and continuing discussions with unions about a new business model for a 12-week limited run — prevent him from saying it's a sure thing.

"My hope is to work with unions to create a 12-week contract," he said, adding that bringing the show back to Broadway is not completely in his hands.

White Christmas will continue to have a life outside of New York City, he said.

The producers did not announce a recoupment of their investment for the 2008 engagement.

The earlier Broadway run included several weeks when nine performances were offered (instead of Broadway's traditional eight), in order to accommodate seasonal demand. It was the top-grossing Broadway show for two consecutive weeks in December, and took in more than $1 million a week for several weeks of the run.

Because of audiences' affection for the source material, and due to the seasonal nature of the plot, some Broadway performances were sold out last year before White Christmas even opened.

Critics in San Francisco, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, Los Angeles and St. Paul, MN, have called this Walter Bobbie-directed staging "Broadway-style" for the past four years. Its commercial producer Kevin McCollum and his partners agreed from the beginning that it was as big as any Broadway musical, but bided their time before bringing it to New York City. They plan to continue producing it seasonally in other markets; separate Bobbie-directed productions played St. Paul and Detroit in 2008.

*

In order to make the limited run 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.

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.

In 2008, Irving Berlin's White Christmas starred 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 Chastain (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.

Meredith Patterson and Jeffry Denman
photo by Joan Marcus

(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.

For more information visit WhiteChristmasOnBroadway.com.

Here's the list of musical numbers from the Playbill of White Christmas:

ACT ONE

Overture
"Happy Holiday"
"White Christmas"
"Let Yourself Go"
"Love and the Weather"
"Sisters"
"The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing"
"Snow"
"What Can You Do With a General?"
"Let Me Sing and I'm Happy"
"Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep"
"Blue Skies"

ACT TWO

Entr'acte
"I Love a Piano"
"Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun"
"Sisters" (Reprise)
"Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me"/"How Deep Is the Ocean?"
"We'll Follow the Old Man"
"Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" (Reprise)
"How Deep Is the Ocean?" (Reprise)
"We'll Follow the Old Man" (Reprise)
"White Christmas" (Reprise)
Finale: "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"

Stephen Bogardus (center) with the cast
Stephen Bogardus (center) with the cast
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