Snowbiz: White Christmas Opens in Toronto With Baldwin, Rowat, O'Bryan and Yazbeck

News   Snowbiz: White Christmas Opens in Toronto With Baldwin, Rowat, O'Bryan and Yazbeck
The Toronto premiere of Irving Berlin's White Christmas opens Nov. 30 after previews from Nov. 20 at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

A cast of Canadian and American performers sing classic Berlin show tunes — and get dusted with "snow" at the finale — through Jan. 5, 2008. Already produced in the U.S. as a Walter Bobbie-directed Broadway-style entertainment in major markets including Detroit, Boston, St. Paul, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the production in Toronto boasts 13 Canadians in a cast of 33.

At the Sony Centre, the Bobbie-helmed troupe features Canadian-born actor Graham Rowat (Broadway's LoveMusik, Dracula, Beauty and the Beast) as Bob, Kate Baldwin (Broadway's Wonderful Town) as Betty, Shannon O'Bryan (the recent New York Musical Theatre Festival run of Such Good Friends) as Judy, Tony Yazbeck (Broadway's 2006 A Chorus Line) as Phil, Canadian Kate Hennig as Martha and Canadian TV and film actor Barry Flatman as Gen. Waverly.


Rowat and real-life wife Baldwin, and O'Bryan, are veterans of San Francisco and Detroit engagements of the show.

The musical is based on the 1954 Hollywood movie musical, which starred Bing Crosby as Bob, Rosemary Clooney as Betty, Vera Ellen as Judy and Danny Kaye as Phil. Songs are by Irving Berlin and the libretto is by David Ives and Paul Blake. "It was a condition to my agreeing to produce this show in Toronto that we cast as many Canadian actors as possible," Sony Centre chief Dan Brambilla said in a statement. "I am delighted to report that we were able to find an incredible group of first-class musical theatre performers in our own backyard. The whole cast, Canadian and American, is going to absolutely blow people away. I'm sure our audiences will be just as proud as I am."

The other Canadians in the cast include Jayme Armstrong, Lisa Messina, Jennifer Stewart and Paula Wolfson (in the female ensemble); Kyle Golemba, Jay Schramek, Rod Campbell and Rob Torr (in the male ensemble); ten-year-old Cassidy Swanston as Susan Waverly and Ana Golja as her understudy.

The cast includes Americans Mike Masters as Ralph Sheldrake, Jackie Bayne as Rita, Kristen Gaetz as Rhoda; Sarah Hicks, Anne Horak, Missy Morrison and Sarah Edwards (female ensemble); Alex Hsu, Eric Santagata, Matt Kirk, Vincent Rodriguez III, Brent McBeth and Matt Hutchens (male ensemble). Swings are Andrew Black, Amy Burnette, Mary Giattino and Matt Kilgore.

The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (formerly The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts).

This incarnation of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Randy Skinner, debuted in San Francisco in 2004, and spawned sitdowns in major markets in 2005 and 2006.

The creative team includes set designer Anna Louizos, costume designer Carrie Robbins, lighting designer Ken Billington, sound designer Acme Sound Partners and orchestrator Larry Blank. Vocal and additional arrangements are by Bruce Pomahac, music direction is by Rob Berman and casting is by Jay Binder C.S.A.

"Irving Berlin's White Christmas tells the story of two Broadway buddies putting on a benefit show at a picturesque Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the process," according to producers.

The score features Irving Berlin classics, including "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing," "Count Your Blessings," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "Sisters," "How Deep is the Ocean," "Blue Skies," "I Love a Piano" and the title tune, among others.

The Toronto engagement is produced by The Producing Office, Paul Blake, Dan Markley and Sonny Everett in association with Paramount Pictures.

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There is also a current independently-produced national tour of the show (not directed by Bobbie), as well as a Bobbie-directed sitdown in Boston, featuring Brian d'Arcy James. In addition, the script and score are licensable, so community troupes and regional theatres are staging their own productions.

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