THE BEST “WHITE CHRISTMAS”
Is happening in San Francisco
BY Iride Aparicio
Photos by: Jeremy Daniel
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Those dreaming of a white Christmas this year, need to go no further than to the SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE in San Francisco, where the IRVING BERLIN’s musical by that name is playing in a magical new production.
Those familiar with “WHITE CHRISTMAS” the movie, are aware that it was first presented in the year 1954 by PARAMOUNT PICTURES. The romantic comedy, was the first movie using Vista Vision, a wide screen process developed by Paramount using twice the area of the 35 millimeter film with a perspective directional sound which can pan from the sound to the left to the right and to the center. The film was also shot inTechnicolor. “White Christmas” was used as the film's title because the BERLIN’s song had great popularity (had won an Oscar in l942 as the "Best song of the year") when previously introduced by BING CROSBY in the film HOLLYDAY INN.
The plot of “WHITE CHRISTMAS” the musical, is the same as the movie's plot. It begins on Christmas Eve in the year 1944 during World War II with two soldiers Captain Bob Wallace (SEAN MONTGOMERY) a Broadway Entertainer, and Private Phil Davis (JEREMY BENTON) performing songs for the l51st Division, somewhere in Europe.
After their show, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (CONRAD JOHN SCHUCK,center, with Martha Watson with LORENA LUFT on the right and Susie Waverly (CLANCY PENNY) on the left) the troops Commanding Officer, announces to the soldiers in an emotional farewell, that he is being relieved of his command, asking his soldiers to pray for a better world (in the future) without wars. He gets a warm set off with the soldiers singing “The Old Man” in choir.
After the war, Bob and Phil make it big in radio and then on Broadway. They start working in different nightclubs and even produced shows. While producing a new show, they receive a letter from “Freckled-Faced Haynes’ one of the soldiers inviting them to see the act of his sisters. Meeting the sisters, generates a romantic story that demonstrates the "Christmas Spirit" more convincingly than a laughing Santa Claus. In an act of love and loyalty to "the Old Man," many years later, the soldiers demonstrate their gratitude to him in a moving manner.
This musical enhances the story with great performances and beautiful visual effects, which include the inside of a train car, and Vermont snowing, with the snow falling gently on the audience. It was a great effect.
As Bob Wallace MONTGOMERY was in character, and whe singing, his voice on that particular night sounded marvelous: here we can add that his interpretation of “Count your blessings instead of Sheep” and “White Christmas” where interpreted with lots of feeling.
As Davis, BENTON put the right touch in his acting to impersonate a character that is very important to the story. When Singing with MONTGOMERY (representing their act) their voices blended well and their acting was entertaining. Their reprise of “The Old Man” at the stage of the Barn Theatre at the end, asking in its lyrics the question. “What do you do with a General when he stops being a General? “ was a touching moment.
Betty & Judy Haynes represented by KERRY CONTE & KELLY SHEEHAN
As the Haynes sisters, the acting of CONTE and SHEEHAN was also natural with CONTE singing in a sultry tone which sounded marvelous in his "Love You Didn't Do Right By Me/How Deep is the Ocean" duet with MONTGOMERY.
SHEEHAN has a different tone of voice but in their duet “Sisters” their voices blended perfectly, and acting their completely different personalities was well done.
LORNA LUFT represented a realistic Martha Watson, that was charming at times, cautious at other times, protective, motherly and who demonstrated, at the end to simply be a woman in love with a man. And the object of her love SHUCK as General and Innkeeper, was lovable, and on that night in his acting, the actor showed the audience his heart.
And while the story of “WHITE CHRISTMAS” the musical, is beautiful, and the acting superb, it is the music that keeps the audience entranced. Song such as “The Best things happen When You are Dancing” “Snow” “I Love a Piano” and even “Falling our of Love Can be fun” bring happy memories to all of us. It was not surprise to anyone that he standing ovation that the show got on opening night was enthusiastic.
The Cast of WHITE CHRISTMAS
And to adding more wonder to this wonderful show, is theme song of the musical, which is “White Christmas” A song with an estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide according to Guinness World Records.
When did BERLIN wrote the song? Nobody knows for sure, but the most popular story is that he wrote it in 1940 while staying in the warm “LA QUINTA” hotel in Southern California. The song was first performed by Bring Crosby in his NBC radio show “THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL” on Christmas day in 1941, and a copy of the famous recording is owned by the Crosby Estate.
WHITE CHRISTMAS will continue playing at the SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE in San Francisco until December 24. For tickets you can go online to www.shnsf.com or call 888-746-1799.