Theatre review: White Christmas – as holiday traditions go this is about as good as it gets

The Vancouver forecast may not be calling for any of the white stuff to fall beyond the local hills this year, but inside the snow falls nightly as the Arts Club’s White Christmas: The Musical makes its annual re-appearance at the Stanley Theatre.

Now into its third year, one would be forgiven in thinking the actors who continue to reprise their roles could get complacent, but nothing could be further from the truth.  From the first number as Wallace and Davis (Jeffrey Victor and Todd Talbot) sing to the troops, the energy bar is set high and never lets up.

For those not familiar with the show, which is based on the popular 1954 movie, it tells the story of popular song-and-dance duo Wallace and Davis, who find themselves side-tracked in Vermont by the Haynes sisters.  Arriving at the quaint inn where the girls are to perform for the holidays, the men find their former Army General is the inn-keeper.  Problem is, with the weather decidedly un-winter like, the inn is empty and Waverly faces the possibility of losing it all under a mountain of unpaid bills.  The answer?  Why, invite all their army buddies to the inn and put on a huge show in the barn.

When I reviewed the show back in 2009 I groused a bit about Victor’s Wallace overpowering Talbot; fast forward three years and while Talbot has lost none of his charm and continues to prove his mettle as a triple threat, it was Victor’s voice this time that had me once again appreciating Irving Berlin’s familiar music.

Monique Lund and Sara-Jeanne Hosie also return as the sister act and have obviously benefited from their three seasons together as they have a real connection that spills easily into their performances.  Hosie’s rendition of “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me” is as wonderful as I remember two years ago.

Todd Talbot, Monique Lund, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Jeffrey Victor in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical. Photo by David Cooper.
Todd Talbot, Monique Lund, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Jeffrey Victor in the Arts Club production of White Christmas. Photo by David Cooper.

The ensemble is again first rate and choreographer Valerie Easton continues to put them through their paces, with the act two opener “I Love a Piano” a tap-tastic highlight.  Musical Director Bruce Kellett is also back with his musicians doing a spectacular job with Berlin’s score. Set Designer Alison Green’s sets and Sheila White’s costumes continue to delight.

As holiday traditions go, a visit with the familiar gang of The Arts Club’s White Christmas is about as good as it gets.  The snow is just a bonus.

White Christmas: The Musical

Music and lyrices by Irving Berlin.  Book by David Ives and Paul Blake.  Based on the Paramount Pictures Film written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank.  Directed by Bill Millerd.  Musical direction by Bruce Kellett.  An Arts Club Theatre Company presentation.  On stage at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through December 28, 2011.  Visit http://www.artsclub.com for tickets and information.

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