Start Dreaming of a White Christmas
by Bob Pember
The Christmas season is up and running at the Stanley with Arts Club’s stage presentation of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical. It’s a lively revival of the Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye 1954 classic, starring Arts Club veterans Jeffrey Victor and Todd Talbot in the crooners’ places. The cast does a great job at bringing the story to an accessible place for those in Vancouver who aren’t scared of some Christmas spirit, and will be running until after Boxing Day for those who want to deck the halls as appropriate.
In case you’re not familiar with the original story, the show follows Bob Wallace (Victor) and Phil Davis (Talbot) as they attempt to help out their General from World War II. Wallace and Davis are popular entertainers and they use their craft to give the General’s hotel a boost over the unseasonably warm Christmas they’re having in Vermont. The duo team up with the Haynes sisters (played by Monique Lund and Sara-Jeanne Hosie) to put on a musical exhibit set in the barn behind the hotel with a number of challenges and misunderstandings that just might have a happy ending. It’s a heartwarming story to say the least, with songs from the Tin Pan Alley pillar, Irving Berlin, that have soundtracked Christmas’ for generations now.
The cast has a bevy of experience in Vancouver as well as throughout Canada and the US. Lead by Victor, Talbot, Lund and Hosie, the ensemble manages to bring enthusiasm and freshness to this classic from the fifties. Their work is cut out for them with the slightly antiquated content – the “everything works out in the end like you knew it would” ending and arbitrary moments of song are challengingly quaint for modern times. However, this production doesn’t disappoint, and though the “AM radio” style of arrangements and matching comfortable sweaters might not be the most congruent with an audience well-versed in several forms of instant messaging, the youthful cast finds a fuzzy Christmas tale to tell even the most jaded crowd of contemporary cynics.
White Christmas at the Stanley is a great way to get a jump start on holiday frivolity, and it will have the whole family singing along before the curtains are down.
White Christmas plays at Arts Club’s Stanley Theatre until December 27, 2009.