'White Christmas' sparkles with the joy of the holidays

THE ISLAND PACKET
By Nancy K. Wellard
Online Article Here

“White Christmas,” on stage of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina through Dec. 31, is a kind of magical, Christmas gift. Filled with top notch entertainment, it will engage you and put a new spin on your spirits and your holidays.

“White Christmas” and all of its endearing elements provide an evening of first-rate entertainment. The production glows with a winning, lighthearted story line and is enhanced with a holiday spin, supported with familiar music, punctuated with stop-you-in-your-tracks dancing and even a little snow.

Everything about the evening — the direction, the leads the ensemble, the music — is filled with musical savvy and performance spectacles. All the elements come together to make your spirits bright.

The stage version of “White Christmas” is based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. It was reinvented for the Broadway musical, which opened in 2004.

The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina production is directed by New York’s Mark Martino. The choreography is seen to by Shea Sullivan, and the musical direction by Eric Alsford.

“White Christmas” tells the story of a couple of successful show business partners whose friendship goes way back to their years together in the U.S. Army. We follow the action of our talented leads, Bob Wallace (Jeffrey Correia), the Crosby guy in the film, and Phil Davis (John Scacchetti), who have, after leaving the military, become a successful performance duo and are mostly enjoying life. What’s missing, the two decide, are women.

It just so happens that an old Army buddy asks the two to consider adding his sisters and their act to their new show. He explains that his sisters are hoping for a serious chance at showbiz. The fun begins as do the anticipated complexities.

The sisters, Judy (Vanessa Sonon) and Betty (Rachel Rhodes-Devey), as it turns out, are actually talented and terrific. Bob and Phil are thrilled for a lot of reasons, and after some creative maneuvering, everything falls into place and the four are off on a train to do a performance at an inn in Vermont.

It turns out that Gen. Henry Waverly (Michael Devries), their former army commander, is the proprietor of that very inn. And, in place with him are Martha Watson (Susan J. Jacks), his inn manager, and Susan (a very youthful Peyton Dobbs), his niece. Things at the inn, sadly, are not going well. There is no snow, and the skiers have all moved on. Everybody is anxious, or worse.

Clearly, there is a need to make things better, and that’s where the “Million-dollar proposition” becomes pivotal to the storyline. The “lets get together, turn things around as we accomplish all of our goals by creating and performing an all new production to be staged at the Vermont inn” scenario is put into place.

Ensuring that things come out the way they should, the leads are impressively supported by Mike (Eddy Cavazos), Ezekiel Foster (Roscoe Sandlin), Sheldrake, (Tim Shea), Rita (Mary Beth Donahoe), Jimmy (Darrin French), Conductor (Patrick Heffernan), Mrs. Snoring Man (Ashley Nicole Martin), Rhoda (Lizzy Nichols) and Scooter (Jonathan Quigley,)

A gifted ensemble cast, all of whom sing and dance with enormous talent and high energy, are all sensational. Their voices and their dancing guarantees that the production is spectacularly propelled through the evening.

There are close to 20 incredible Irving Berlin songs and musical settings, and the good news is that our favorite musical numbers start right off with “Happy Holiday” and “White Christmas.”

You will love the story and the outcome.

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at nancykwellard@gmail.com.