Yazbeck and O'Bryan Will "Love a Piano" in Toronto White Christmas

News   Yazbeck and O'Bryan Will "Love a Piano" in Toronto White Christmas Tony Yazbeck, New York City Center's recent Tulsa in Gypsy, is expected to sing and dance opposite Shannon O'Bryan — in roles respectively created by Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen — in the new Toronto production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Playbill.com has learned.

Tony Yazbeck
Tony Yazbeck

O'Bryan is a veteran of two earlier North American engagements of the new musical based on the movie musical of the same name. She played showbiz sister Judy Haynes (singing "Sisters" and more) in San Francisco and Detroit. She's currently in rehearsal for the new musical Such Good Friends, in the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Yazbeck created the role of Al in the new Broadway production of A Chorus Line. His Broadway credits include Never Gonna Dance, Oklahoma! and the 1989-91 production of Gypsy. He's also performed in Encores! concert stagings of Pardon My English, The Apple Tree and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

The Walter Bobbie-directed, Randy Skinner-choreographed production of White Christmas appears in two concurrent engagements this season — in Toronto and Boston.

Toronto performances begin Nov. 20 at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (formerly the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts). The Canadian premiere of the show will play to Jan. 5, 2008.

Playbill.com also learned Canadian favorites Barry Flatman (a TV and film veteran) and Nora McLellan (Aunt Eller in this season's Oklahoma! at the Stratford Festival) have been wooed to play the show's crusty retired general and his vaudeville veteran lady friend, Martha. As previously reported, playing the Bing Crosby role of Bob will be Canadian actor Graham Rowat opposite American actress Kate Baldwin (Rowat's real-life wife) in the Rosemary Clooney role of Betty Haynes. The New Yorkers are re-creating parts they played in San Francisco and Detroit, getting such choice songs as "Count Your Blessings," "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me."

For Yazbeck and O'Bryan, the song list includes "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" and "I Love a Piano," among others.

Produced by Broadway's Kevin McCollum (with partners), the production features lavish sets designed by Tony Award nominee Anna Louizos. The creative team's work on this show — with a book by Paul Blake and David Ives, and a score by Irving Berlin — has been popular in San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Detroit. (Smaller regional theatres are also dong their own productions.)

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Ryerson Theatre School graduate Rowat appeared in Beauty and the Beast in Toronto and on Broadway. He was recently seen in the Harold Prince-directed LoveMusik on Broadway, singing the Kurt Weill-Oscar Hammerstein specialty, "Buddy on the Night Shift" (also on the forthcoming cast album). 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 recently played Queen Katherine in Henry V at Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey.

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White Christmas tells the story of two showbiz buddies putting on a show in a picturesque Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the bargain.

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 Kevin McCollum, Paul Blake, The Producing Office, Dan Markely 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.

Tickets are available now. This splashy new incarnation of the property made its debut in San Francisco in 2004 and then blossomed in major market franchises in 2005, 2006 and now 2007.

For mire information, visit www.sonycentre.ca or www.whitechristmasthemusical.com.

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