Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical: An Official A&M Review

It’s snowing (again) in Minneapolis, but today I don’t actually mind. It may be because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and today’s dusting heightens the festivity that’s already buzzing throughout the city; it could also be a lingering glow from last night’s opening of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical at the Orpheum Theatre.

Somehow I made it to adulthood without ever watching the classic movie, so I went in without preconceived notions of what I was in for. Strangely, I thought perhaps the storyline was based in the depression-era and was a little sad but with a happy ending. I’ve since been informed I was thinking of The Miracle on 34th St. I guess I really need to brush up on my classic Christmas movies.

It was then to my surprise and delight that I found out the show was in fact about a couple of ex-military turned showbiz performers in the 50s putting on a grand holiday show at a sleepy Vermont inn. The costuming was simple but elegant, and not for the first time made me partially yearn to have been born in a different era. While the sets weren’t elaborate in a complicated way, they perfectly conveyed all of the charm and warmth that swept like an undercurrent throughout the show.

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The Irving Berlin’s White Christmas 2014 National Tour Company Photo by Kevin White

All of the vocal performances were phenomenal, but what stood out most for me was the show’s choreography. Sadly, in some Broadway shows today choreography seems to be a bit of an afterthought, with actors going through the motions of some basic kick-ball-change type moves. I often find myself thinking back to my show choir days during those shows, and considering whether I could perform the routines myself (I definitely couldn’t, but my inner critic is tough and my self-estimation is high). In White Christmas however, it’s clear that choreography was as big of an emphasis as the musical numbers. The standout scene of the evening in my mind was a tap number by the full company. It’s not something you see often these days, and it was incredibly well done. As an aside to audiences: I understand the urge to clap during a tap solo to show appreciation, but just hold your applause until the end of the number. Clapping over tapping really doesn’t make much sense.

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The Irving Berlin’s White Christmas 2014 National Tour Company Photo by Kevin White

White Christmas runs at the Orpheum Theatre through Sunday, November 30th and is the perfect way to kick off the 2014 holiday season with family and friends. Tickets are still available here.

While you’re downtown, be sure to check out the storefronts of Brilliance! Made Here, part of an ongoing initiative to reinvigorate Hennepin Avenue with local arts and culture. This holiday season nearly 40 storefront window “Showcases” will be on display across 15 blocks throughout downtown, mainly along Hennepin and around the City Center. For more information, visit MadeHereMN.org.

The initiative is another great reminder of the continued growth of Minneapolis’ arts and culture scene, including food, which is beginning to shine a stronger spotlight on the city from a national perspective. I’ve always been proud to be a Minnesotan, and have never been more so than now. Get out there and enjoy our beautiful city, snow and all.

–M

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