Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas in Vermont in Boca Raton


Christmas in Vermont Via Boca Raton

By Skip Sheffield

No need to dream of a white Christmas. You’ll find one live and onstage at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton through Dec. 25.

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” is a stage version of the beloved 1954 film, created on its 50th anniversary in 2004.“White Christmas” is an absurdly dated pre-feminist conventional romance – which is why its presentation with precision accuracy as a period piece by director Stacey Stephens is important.

For those not familiar with the film, “White Christmas” begins on the battlefield in Europe, 1944. It’s Christmas Eve and an American battalion is trying to make the best of a bad situation as bombs drop.  Bob Wallace (James Cichewicz) and Phil Davis (Cannon Starnes) are best comrades-in-arms, under the command of crusty General Henry Waverly (Alan Gerstel). In addition to being good soldiers, Bob and Phil are accomplished song and dance men.

The story flashes forward 10 years to 1954. Bob and Phil are readying for a big show in Miami Beach. Those plans are short circuited when the talented sisters act of Betty (Kelly Shook) and Judy Hayes (Julie Kleiner) use womanly wiles to sidetrack the guys to Vermont.

Bob is sweet on Judy and Phil has fallen for Betty, so resistance is futile. They board a train at Grand Central Station and disembark in Vermont, only to face an immediate crisis -- being booked for a ski lodge Christmas show, but the area has an unseasonal heat wave and no snow in sight.

Inn manager Martha Watson (Missy McArdle) is frantic. She has been hiding bills from the Inn’s owner. With no snow the whole kit and caboodle could go down.

In a coincidence that happens only in stage musicals, the Inn’s owner is the very same Gen. Waverly (Alan Gerstel), now retired, but that could change. There are some romantic intrigues that involve a misunderstanding and a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, but that’s not important. What’s important is the singing, dancing and timeless Irving Berlin tunes.

James Cichewicz and Cannon Starnes are of leading-man quality both in voice and on foot. Kelly Shook and Julie Kleiner are simply adorable, and Kleiner gets bonus points for her bold dance moves, going out into the audience to tap atop a low wall that divides the theater.

Alan Gerstel brings great compassion and red-white-and-blue patriotism to his otherwise humble general. The show-stopper is “Megaphone Martha” Watson (Miss McArdle), who channels Ethel Merman and gets away with it on “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy.” She really means it.

For the younger audience there is precocious Susan Waverly (Bianca Matthews), who is 14 going on 21.

The costumes are fabulous. Music is recorded and the cast was still fine-tuning the vocal and dance coordination.  Still, it’s virtually impossible to walk away from this show and not have your spirits lifted. “Happy Holiday” and “Blue Skies” indeed.
Tickets are $58. Call 561-995-2333 or

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