White Christmas Will Make Broadway Debut in November, Playing to Early 2009
By Kenneth Jones
Snow is expected on Broadway this fall. Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the stage musical packaged by a Broadway creative team since 2004 for such major markets as Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto and San Francisco, will make its Broadway debut this fall, producer Kevin McCollum announced Aug. 4.
White Christmas, directed by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Tony nominee and 42nd Street's Randy Skinner, will begin a limited engagement at the Marquis Theatre Nov. 14 and will continue to Jan. 4, 2009. Opening-night date, schedule and casting information will be announced shortly.
At least some members of past productions are expected to appear in the Broadway bow. Three weeks of rehearsals are expected, followed by a seven-week run. And, yes, "snow" will fall on the audience at the Marquis for the title number, as it has regionally.
For the record, the Bobbie version (which has a libretto by David Ives and Paul Blake, drawing on the 1954 Paramount Pictures film) also played Detroit and St. Paul, MN, in recent years. It will play both cities this fall, as well, in separate productions.
The musical is a 42nd Street-style crowd-pleaser featuring hit songs (some written for the film) by composer-lyricist Berlin. His "Blue Skies" and "I Love a Piano" are lavish ensemble presentations, while "Count Your Blessings," "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" get intimate presentations.
The stage score was preserved on an album by Ghostlight Records, which borrows stars from past casts (including Brian d'Arcy James, Anastasia Barzee and Karen Morrow).
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.
McCollum told Playbill.com Aug. 4 that there was "sufficient dialogue" with theatrical unions, theatre owners and others to prompt the announcement of the show.
The production is able to happen with the participation of the unions, who were asked to make some accommodations. McCollum would not discuss specific business with the unions, but said, "Some things are in place and some things we're working towards."
He called this contract "a grand experiment" that other producers of big musicals will pay attention to if they are seeking limited runs in the future.
There is no tradition for a short, ten-week run of a Broadway musical this large — 32 actors, 20 musicians, multiple sets, many backstage crew members. "It's found work," McCollum said.
Group sales will begin immediately, McCollum said.
According to the producers' official Aug. 4 announcement, "Every holiday season, audiences of all ages enjoy the uplifting story of [the film] 'White Christmas.' Now, a new generation will be able to experience this holiday tradition in a completely new way — live on stage. With the Broadway arrival of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the show is poised to become New York's newest holiday tradition."
The musical "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. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, Irving Berlin's White Christmas promises to be a merry and bright theatrical experience for the entire family."
The creative team includes set design by Tony nominee Anna Louizos (In the Heights, Avenue Q), costumes by Tony nominee Carrie Robbins (Grease!, Over Here), lighting design by Tony winner Ken Billington (Chicago, The Drowsy Chaperone, Annie), sound design by Tony Award nominee Acme Sound Partners (In the Heights, Spamalot), orchestrations by Tony nominee Larry Blank (The Drowsy Chaperone), vocal and dance arrangements by Bruce Pomahac and music supervision by Rob Berman.
For more information visit www.whitechristmasthemusical.com.
In spring 2009, 9 to 5: The Musical will play the Marquis Theatre following its fall 2008 tryout in Los Angeles.
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