This past weekend my 13-year old niece and I attended a performance of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Patchogue Theatre. The play is being presented by the Gateway Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County.
Before telling you my thoughts on the show, I need to preface them with the fact that I have seen the movie White Christmas about 20 times. I have watched it every Christmas for the past 20 years. I know all the songs and the dance routines by heart. My niece had never seen White Christmas before; I gave her a brief summary of the show before it started.
For those of you, like me, who are devotees of the movie, there are scenes that have been cut, others that have been changed as well as songs that have been added. Some of the changes enhance the production, while others I believe detract. However, to be perfectly clear, these changes were not made by the Gateway but by the original team that brought White Christmas to the stage. That said, my niece who had never seen the movie before enjoyed the show immensely.
The staging of the show was amazing. The sets that are used are all from the original Broadway show, and they are some of the best that I have seen on Broadway or off. The dance numbers were simply fantastic. The choreographer obtained permission to use the original Broadway choreography, so theatergoers are able to see the show as it appeared on Broadway a couple of years ago. The only place where the dancing fell flat in my opinion was in the casting of Matthew LaBanca as Phil Davis. While Mr. LaBanca had a fabulous voice, I don’t feel that his dancing was good enough to play the part of Phil Davis. In order to play this part, one needs to be an extraordinary dancer. I, however, might be a little bit biased as I am used to watching Danny Kaye dance and it is extremely hard to fill his shoes.
Trista Moldovan who played Betty Haynes had an absolutely amazing voice. When she sang Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me she gave me chills. Christopher Vettel, who played Bob Wallace was perfectly cast. If I closed my eyes, I would have thought I was back in my living room listening to Bing Crosby. He had one of the best voices I have had the privilege to hear in 18 years of attending the theater. I thought Beth Glover captured the essence of Martha, the Inn Concierge, perfectly. She had great comedic timing as well as a great singing voice.
Overall, I thought it was a good production and I would definitely recommend it. It would be a great afternoon or evening out for either you and your spouse, or with an older child 12 plus years of age.
The show is running until December 30. Tickets are $52 per person for Tuesday and Wednesday matinees, $54 for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, as well as both performances on Sunday and $58 for Friday and Saturday performances. Student tickets, for those 25 years or younger are available for $25. Please check http://www.gatewayplayhouse.com for more information on show times and to purchase tickets.
71 East Main Street
by Mikaela Walker