Tis the season to be jolly….and also the season for: Scrooge, “Miracle on 34th Street,” The Grinch, “A Christmas Carol”, “It's a Wonderful Life”, Rudolph, “A Christmas Story,” Frosty,” and “White Christmas” (sorry for the short list…but only so much space!!).
By Tom Valentine
For the News Tribune
Tis the season to be jolly….and also the season for: Scrooge, “Miracle on 34th Street,” The Grinch, “A Christmas Carol”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Rudolph, “A Christmas Story,” Frosty,” and “White Christmas” (sorry for the short list…but only so much space!!).
With the movie version of “White Christmas” released in 1954, I always thought that Danny Kaye was miscast and not on par with the other movie star, Bing Crosby. Likewise, I could never accept the 51-year-old Crosby and 25-year-old Rosemary Clooney being lovers. However, it is the Christmas season and all you need is some snow and a whole heap of nostalgia - and the magic works.
The Cumberland Theatre delivers a blizzard of nostalgia with their current stage production of the same name. Besides the two song and dance man leads, we also have their romantic female counterparts. Add a grumpy old man, a sweet innocent young girl, and enough Irving Berlin songs
to satisfy the biggest humbug, and it becomes a fitting tribute to the holiday season.
Cumberland native Danny Durr returns to his hometown as Phil Davis (the Danny Kaye role) and Daniel Atwood assumes the Bing Cosby part of Bob Wallace. Durr has the boyish charm of the incorrigible Ladies’ Man and gets to show off his dancing skills. Atwood is more down to earth and level headed member of the team, but lacks the romantic skills of his partner. They both sing and dance their way through the show and make the most of their comic routine of “Sisters.”
Likewise, the female sister duo of Kristina Huegel (Betty Haynes) and Kimberli Rowley (Judy Haynes) also makes memorable moments - Kristina when she sings with Daniel and Kimberli when she dances with Danny. Huegel is the more responsible half of The Sisters Act and yearns for that true love that has escaped her. Rowley is more charming and flirty, though slightly scheming as well.
What takes center stage, in my opinion, is the music of Irving Berlin. How can you go wrong with a show that includes “Happy Holidays,” “Let Yourself Go,” “Count Your Blessings,” “How Deep is the Ocean,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” “White Christmas” and “Blue Skies” (set to a rousing dance number that is intricately choreographed by Durr).
Kevin Shreve is appropriately grumpy and curmudgeonly as The Old Man, General Waverly. His granddaughter Susan Waverly (McClairen Eisenhour),is just as sweet and innocent. She is not only smart but also wise beyond her years. Karen Hutcheson is cast as a wannabe singer/performer Martha Watson, who muddles and fuddles her way around the Vermont Inn.
Rita and Rhoda, two chorus girls, are played by Alexis Krey and MacKenzie Cutcliffe. Both are brash, sexy, and fun - just maybe not the smartest. Ron Growden’s brief appearance as Ezekiel demonstrates you don’t need lots of lines to steal a scene.
The show continues through this weekend and next, with tickets available by calling 301-759-4990.
Open up the barn doors and see the snow……dim the lights…cue the music….light the Christmas tree…bring out the cast…sing “White Christmas”…and enjoy the nostalgia of the season. Happy Holidays!!