Musical brings dreams of ‘White Christmas’ to stage

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Are you dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones you used to know?

“White Christmas,” presented by BYU’s Department of Theatre and Media Arts and directed by George Nelson, premiered last Wednesday and will run on select dates through Dec. 3 at the Pardoe Theatre.

Based on the Broadway musical that was adapted from the beloved 1954 movie of the same name, BYU’s production of “White Christmas” features two army buddies staging a show to save their former general’s failing Vermont inn.

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Bob Wallace (Christopher Brand), Phil Davis (Michael Milkanin), Judy Haynes (Kate Bailey), Betty Haynes (Brittany Worley) are the main characters in “White Christmas,” which runs through Dec. 3. at the Pardoe Theatre.
With music and lyrics written by Irving Berlin, this 1950s-set production is filled with a plethora of classic music and dance numbers including “Let Yourself Go,” “Blue Skies,” and of course, “White Christmas.” The family-friendly show adds its own tunes to the story, but still hopes to invoke the same feelings and emotions as the film.

“It’s the same overall theme and characters of the movie,” Nelson said. “It’s a celebration of sweet love and Christmas nostalgia.”

Christopher Brand, a music dance theater major from Boise, Idaho, plays Bob Wallace, the character made famous by Bing Crosby. Brand said it was a challenge to mimic his great predecessor while also making the part his own.

“I’ve grown up with the movie ever since I can remember,” Brand said. “I just love being able to emulate his beautiful, old crooner style.”

The choreography for the show was led by Lisa Stoddard. Featuring energetic jazz, tap and ballroom solo and ensemble numbers, the dancing in “White Christmas” rivals the vocals. One of the highlights, Stoddard said, is “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me,” where a scorned Betty Haynes, played by Brittany Worley, tries to leave Vermont and Bob Wallace behind and breaks into a solo performance, all while never touching the ground.

“The dancing is very presentational, very visual,” Stoddard said. “In the 1950s, the women were more delicate and timely, the men more masculine. I wanted to portray that with these numbers.”

With a limited budget for set design, the different scenes for “White Christmas” are told through numerous costume changes throughout the show. This was costume designer Janet Swenson’s last production as a full-time faculty member, and the dedication and attention to detail shows, Nelson said.

“This show is a costume extravaganza,” Nelson said. “The audience really gets a feel of location through the various outfits.”

Preparation for the show began with auditions back in April. The cast and crew, numbering around 50, began prepping for the show over the summer. Brand said they have been working hard to bring to stage something the audience will appreciate.

“The show doesn’t take anything away from the movie,” Brand said. “It’s a great adaptation, the feelings are the same and the audience will recognize the songs and the story.”

“White Christmas” runs Nov. 29-Dec. 3. Tickets are $21 for evening performances and $13 for matinee. Discounts are available for BYU students, senior citizens and alumni.

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