Last week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts we saw "Hamilton", a musical for the 21st century, and this week we saw "White Christmas", a musical that represents all that made theatre-going so much fun in the 20th century, at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Center in Miami.
Based on a 1954 movie musical it was adapted for the stage in 2000 with the book by David Ives and Paul Blake that makes all that was corny in the film fun on the stage. There is the 'Let's put on a show in the barn' gimmick along with a misunderstanding between one of the lead couples not to mention jokes like, "We fight. We don't have sex. It's like we are married!", which still gets laughs.
It has the music of Irving Berlin, 18 songs that have become classics, including the title tune which is the biggest selling record of all time. Just as important is that it has a cast that is looking as if they are having as much fun as the audience.
Listen to Kerry Conte sing a sultry "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" while Sean Montgomery counterpoints with "How Deep Is The Ocean". Try not to tap your toes while Jeremy Benton and Kelly Sheehan dance and sing, along with the chorus, "I Love A Piano" and, if you are old enough, try to not think of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly as they dance to the choreography of Randy Skinner.
Can you decide who does "Sisters" better first sung by Kelly Sheehan and Kerry Conte or the version by Sean Montgomery and Jeremy Benton subbing for them?
When the audience is invited to a sing-a-long of "White Christmas" you can tell they have been doing it under their breath because they just let it out with a sigh. When Karen Ziemba sings "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy", those who know her, you are just waiting for her to break out dancing. More than one person had a tear in their eye during "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep".
The final curtain call number "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm", with costume, scenic and lighting designs in harmony along with the cast, and 'snow' falling on stage and in the auditorium puts everyone in that Christmas card we all want to be a part of every Christmas.
"Irving Berlin's White Christmas" is a gift to us all and not too late to give it to others. Get lost in a musical from yesteryear, laugh at the old jokes, sit back and watch the cast of 27 along with the 16 musicians and imagine yourself on the stage and when you get outside waiting for your car smile as a group of theatergoers start singing "White Christmas" and others join them.
"Irving Berlin's White Christmas" runs 2 hours plus a 15 minute intermission.