Sunday September 24th 2017

“White Christmas”

As we near Halloween, the theater world starts to pick up speed with holiday productions. For years and years , we have had “A Christmas Carol”,” The Christmas Schooner”, “A Christmas Story” and endless others to get us into the “holiday spirit”. Many of us have seen countless productions of each and so , our area theaters have started to search for something different- something new that we can sink our teeth into and yet, accomplish the same positive feeling about the season despite what is happening in the world around us. Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has accomplished this with an amazing production of “White Christmas”, the Irving Berlin scored musical based on the movie with a sort of new book by David Ives and Paul Blake and of course music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, who by all accounts represents the ultimate writer of “Broadway music”.

For those of you who might not know the story, two army buddies, sone and dance men  , Phil Davis ( the incredible Andrew Lupp, who Marriott audiences have seen go from incredible ensemble dancer to full fledged leading man with just the greatest comic touch) and Bob Wallace ( Rod Thomas, a bright young talent in one of his finest roles/performances) ten years after World War II, find themselves chasing a sister act ( Betty ( Stephanie Binetti, who has a terrific range) and Judy ( an incredible performance by Tammy Mader, another ensemble member who has risen to the top due to her talent) to an Inn in Vermont- an inn owned by their General who is now in deep trouble as it is winter/Christmas and there is a “heat wave” and thus no snow and no holiday spirit ( or guests). They decide to put on a big show and bring back all the boys from their unit to cover the losses of their dear friend and fearless leader, General Waverly ( David Lively , once again proving that Shakespearean actors can do anything and everything on a stage).

This is a slick, although hokey, production under the direction and choreography of the always reliable Mark Robin. Most of the subscribers are into his work and know that when Robin directs or does the choreography, there will be lots of dance and in particular, to Berlin’s music, tap- wow! The tap dancing in this production is amazing with a show stopping production number to “I Love A Piano” that opens the second act and is spellbinding ( to say the least). Just seeing this number is worth the price of a ticket, but there is so much more to this simple love story filled with heart and soul.

Songs such as “Happy Holiday”,”Count Your Blessing instead of Sheep”, “How Deep is The Ocean”, “Blue Skies”,”Sisters” and of course “White Christmas” and yes, even more! No matter how your day went, once you enter this magical theater with a clever design by Thomas M. Ryan, great costumes by Nancy Missimi ( some of which we have seen in other productions- some even worn by the same actors playing in those other productions), lighting by Diane Ferry Willimas and props by Sally Weiss. Most of these names are familiar to Marriott subscribers and regulars as they have been making the productions glitter for many years.

Some of the ensemble members and featured players can have the same said about them. The gloriuos Alene Robertson ( our local Ethel merman),Michael Aaron Lindner ( who proves that there are no small roles, making every second on stage as important as if he were the lead, Michale Weber ( again taking a small role and expanding it without using many words, sort of “Dale Bensonish”), Bernie Yvon ( who as always can make his character memorable and Annie Gunn. The rest of the ensemble; Matthew Crowle,Adam Estes, Ericka Mac, Johanna McKenzie miller, Ashton Napier, Matt Raftery,Buddy Reeder, Sam Rogers, Katheryn Patton and Tiffany Topolare all solid dancers and singers and take on any little role needed to complete this extraordinary entertainment experience. There is also a delightful character, Susan ( the general’s granddaughter) that is double cast and played by Madison Gloria Olszewski and Kate Wild> A darling character well defined and played in the opener by Ms Olszewski.

There is not much else to say about this sparkling production other than the musical arrangements are terrific- Michael Mahler ( the multi talented, singer, actor, musician, song writer, playwright etc) serves as mucial director and makes Berlin’s score shine. The Musical supervision by Patti Garwood who also conducts the  seven wonderful musicians all make for a great evening of “family entertainment”. Yes, thsi holiday show will be enjoyed by all- no matter six or sixty ( or even older), you will find yourself humming to music ( some people will not even know that they know this scors) and loving the characters. You even get a chance to show your talent as the play draws to a close.

“White Christmas” will continue at The Marriott Theatre of Lincolnshire through New Years Day with a schedule as follows:

Wednesdays at 1 and 8 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $41-$49. Students and seniors save $5 and if you want a truly special, and affordable experience, there are dinner packages on Wednesday and Thursday at only $55 per person ( including ticket) You may never find a dinner/theater package this strong, anywhere.

To order, you can visit the Theater box office located at Ten Marriott Drive ( just south of Rte 22 and East of Rte 21) with plenty of free parking, by phone at 847-634-0200, or at www.Ticketmaster.com

for more info on “White Christmas” visit www.MarriottTheatre.com

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