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ARTS: WRAP UP IN HOLIDAY CHEER

Stop dreaming of a “White Christmas” and make it a reality.

Through Jan. 4, the classic feel-good musical will reside at Riverside Dinner Theater. It’s the show’s first return to the ’Burg in two years and, just like in times past, is the perfect way to spark the old holiday cheer.

“We’ve brought it back by popular demand,” said Patrick A’Hearn, artistic director of Riverside Center. “It’s full of lights, snow and is a picture-perfect postcard of the holiday season.”

“White Christmas” was made an international hit in 1954, thanks to the acting and singing brilliance of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. In addition to the title soundtrack, Crosby and Kaye made household tunes out of the likes of “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Blue Skies” and “How Deep Is the Ocean.” The musical rendition of “White Christmas” was born in 2004 and has since hit Broadway and venues across the globe.

The story tracks two World War II Army veterans, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, and their selfless quest to Vermont to help their former commanding officer. Their officer runs a picturesque inn that is suffering due to a lack of snow. By gathering the commander’s old troops and emitting positive vibes, the entire community works together to generate a snowy Christmas. The story is chock-full of cheer, love and gratitude.

“The camaraderie between two guys, how willing they are to forget their own problems . . .to put everything on the line to cheer up their fellow man, it really speaks volumes about our armed forces,” said director Christopher Noffke. “It is so relevant to the time we are in now. A lot of our family members are gone overseas. It’s a great chance to go and feel proud of your country and family. It’s all about doing good for others.”

The Riverside version features carefully crafted choreography, bright costumes and a cozy set. “We really wanted it to feel like an old 1950s Hollywood musical or movie,” said Noffke. “We’ve remastered a version of our set from a couple of years ago and it looks beautiful.”

“What I missed from a couple of years ago when we did this was the top-notch tap-dancing,” added A’Hearn. “[Noffke] is a wonderful choreographer and has blended the music and choreography so well.”

The story line also doesn’t drift far from the original, and folks should feel right at home with the overall experience.

“The story is great just as it is,” said Noffke. “You won’t really see too many surprises from my end.”

Performing as Bob Wallace in the production is Florida native and New York resident Robert Teasdale. He is one of a handful of the actors recruited by Riverside from out of state. Prior to joining the cast of 23, Teasdale toured the country with “Shrek The Musical” and will now play Bing Crosby’s prized role.

“Those are some pretty big shoes to fill,” said Teasdale. “It’s quite an honor. When you think of Christmas, you really think of Bing Crosby and ‘White Christmas.’”

WANT TO GO?

What: “White Christmas”

Where: Riverside Dinner Theater, 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg

When: Through Jan. 4. Show begins 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays.

Cost: $40–$60

Info: 540/370-4300; riversidedt.com

Jesse Scott is a freelance writer and Fredericksburg native. Email him at jesserobertscott@gmail.com.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/entertainment/2013/12/04/arts-wrap-up-in-holiday-cheer/