Irving Berlin's White Christmas at WBT

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 11:00 pm By: Chesley Plemmons Source: CurtainUp Westchester
We might as well be married. We fight all the time and we never have sex." -  Marsha, explaining her relationship with Hank.
"When Iím worried, and I canít sleepI count my blessings instead of sheep, And I fall asleep, counting my blessings" - Sentimental lyrics from the pen of Irving Berlin

Relax fellow Bah Humbuggers! I havenít gone sentimental on you. (Review spoiler ahead!) But Iím about to say some very encouraging words about the production of Irving Berlinís White Christmas at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, New York.

True, this is the same smaltzy musical I reviewed a couple of times during past holiday seasons on Broadway. And true, while I found those productions entertaining, there was little question about their obvious tinsel time emotional manipulation. We critics are often quick to give the devil his due, so Iím happy this time to give the dancer his due. And that dancer is Randy Skinner who created the original choreography for White Christmas and at Westchester has taken on the responsibility for directing the show and recreating his dances.

The emphasis on dance makes a considerable improvement in the show as a whole, and the thrust stage at the theatre brings the energy right into the laps of the audience. Based on the 1954 Paramount Pictures movie, which starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, the plot is strictly a buddy story married to a back-stage, "letís put on a show" scenario.
 
WWII War vets Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton), now successful Broadway performers, are scheduled to leave for a Florida gig when they stop to check out a pair of singing sisters, Betty (Lindsie Vanwinkle) and Judy Haynes (Kelly Sheehan). You can do the math. Two guys, two girls, a couple of love songs and romance is underway Ė sort of. One duo, Bob and Judy, get off to a bumpy start. As we say now: "no worries."

The girls are, themselves, on the way to a holiday gig, in Vermont, scheduled to sing at an inn owned by the guysí former commanding officer, General Waverly (Jamie Ross).
After some romantic trickery, the foursome arrives at the Vermont Inn just as a heat wave has melted all the snow and endangered not only the Christmas 
show but also the inn itself.

How love conquers all, and song and dance triumphs over fickle weather, makes up the A-B-C plot. Fortunately there is an almost unending flow of delectable melodies from the great (and maybe currently somewhat forgotten) Berlin.

Skinner, with the help of associate director/choreographer Mary Giattino, has devised exuberant routines for the large and talented cast of 25, which were constantly rewarded with