Chicago Theatre Review
Marriotts Christmas Gift
Early Gift of a “White Christmas”
By Lazlo Collins
It’s easy to be cynical about the holiday season, especially if it is before Halloween and you are about to get the full onslaught of “White Christmas”; however, most cynicism evaporates when the cords of those familiar tunes begin. Irving Berlin’s 1954 movie musical was the original inspiration for the 2004 stage adaptation by David Ives and Paul Blake.
Marriot Lincolnshire’s production of “White Christmas a pleasing, non-denominational greeting card to those that remember the score and characters from the movie. The story of soldier loyalty, singing acts, and “Hey, you’ve got in an Inn, Let’s do a show!” needs little introduction. Under the direction and choreography of Marc Robin, the show glides along with few surprises, but plenty of 50”s nostalgia and topnotch tapping.
The GI buddies Phil Davis (Andrew Lupp) and Bob Wallace (Rod Thomas) are endearing from the start. Mr. Thomas has a classic crooner style, while Mr. Lupp is a standout throughout the show with his energy, timing and tapping expertise. The ladies that accompany the singing duo of Wallace and Davis throughout the holiday mayhem are the Haynes Sisters, Judy (Tammy Mader) and Betty (Stephanie Binetti). Ms. Binetti sustains grace and unease in her role as mother hen, while it’s hard not to smile when Ms. Mader takes the stage while she is singing or dancing.
Meanwhile back at the Inn, General Henry Waverly (David Lively) keeps the staunch, but loveable, authority figure warm and endearing among the blizzard of activity that unfolds around the Inn. Mr. Lively keeps the pathos believable in his reenlistment rejection by the army. (Although, I thought the “okay, just kidding, we will take you back in the army” letter at the end of the show seemed tacked on.)
Also holding down the Inn, are the General’s housekeeper, Martha Watson; played with Broadway diva power by Alene Roberston. Ms. Robertson passes down her inspiring ways to the General’s granddaughter. In this role, Madison Gloria Olszewski, throws off the muffler and belts like a pro.
Among the plans to help the General with the benefit show to save the Inn(and presumably the General’s depression), Michael Weber and Michael Aaron Lindner keep the action lively with great comic timing and stock interpretations.
With the top of Act Two’s breathtaking tap extravaganza, and all the dancing throughout the show, Marc Robin’s choreography is simply great and fun to watch. The chorus seems to completely enjoy themselves and sells the corny holiday magic completely.
With the appropriately festive set design (Thomas M. Ryan) and rounding up the visual appeal with the fab 50”s costume design (Nancy Missimi), “White Christmas” would make any holiday cynic smile.
While there are no theatrical surprises in the production and the stage adaptation is bit different than the original movie; the good-will sentiment and the loveliest songs are still intact. If you are inclined for some wholesome holiday entertainment for the whole family, “White Christmas” runs through 1 Jan 2012. 847-634-0200. www.Marriotttheatre.com