Dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’ in WoodburyEast Ridge High School's production of "White Christmas" opens Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 9 at the Loft Stage.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
East Ridge High School will be getting into the holiday spirit later this month when its fall musical “White Christmas” opens.
“White Christmas” runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 9 at the Loft Stage.
“’White Christmas’ is certainly a favorite of mine,” director Amanda Hestwood said. “There’s a familiarity to the show.
“Even if you don’t know the musical, you’re pretty hard pressed not to find that you know at least one of the songs if not more – it’s something very familiar, very comfortable, very warm.”
“White Christmas” tells the story of Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two iconic song- and- dance-men, who follow a sister act, Betty and Judy Hayness, to Vermont only to discover that the nearly-bankrupt lodge the sisters were to perform at is owned by Bob and Phil’s former commanding general.
As the only guests at the resort, because there is no snow, Wallace, Davis and the Hayness sisters decide to help out the general by staging their Broadway-bound revue at the resort.
“’White Christmas’ is one of my all-time favorite holiday shows,” said Pari Cariaga, who will be playing the role of Betty Hayness. “The show just makes you mushy-gushy inside.
“Plus, it’s exciting to play a character that Rosemary Clooney originated.”
Hestwood said she decided on “White Christmas” for this year’s musical for two reasons.
The first reason was that she felt it was time to do a dance show.
The second reason Hestwood decided to do a holiday show, thus pushing back the performances dates, was because of the construction currently taking place at the attached black box theater.
Cariaga said the later performance dates were a positive for actors.
“It was a blessing because now we’re able to perfect things,” she said. “Everything is coming together and it’s starting to look really good.”
Spotlight on dance
“White Christmas” features a number of different dance styles including tap, jazz, ballroom and traditional musical theater dance.
Hestwood said she wanted to do a dance show because it was a skill that students hadn’t gotten an introduction to previously.
“This show is a dance show first and foremost,” she said. “I think people are going to really respond to seeing 60 kids up on stage tap dancing.”
Hestwood said the tap routines proved the most challenging for students.
“Tap dancing is its own beast,” she said. “It’s not just teaching the steps.”
Jamila Joiner, who plays Debbie the Dance Captain, said she has enjoyed learning the dance routines, specifically the tap routines.
“It’s one of my favorite shows to do because we have all the different styles of dance,” she said. “I got to learn how to do tap for the first time, which was really fun.
“Tap is my favorite part, but it’s also a challenge because it’s so completely different than other dance moves because the focus is so much on your feet.”
Joiner said she thinks audiences are really going to enjoy the dance routines in “White Christmas.”
“Dance is the aspect that people don’t see during television shows or commercials,” she said. “The dance moves are kind of the special effects of the show.”
Hestwood said audiences can expect to see a musical similar to that of the classic movie version with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.
“The familiarity of this show is what makes it such a gem,” she said. “It’s kind of like messing with your grandmother’s chicken soup recipe: if it’s just perfect the way it is, why do something with it?”
Hestwood said she is excited for the show to open later this month.
“We want people to feel like they’ve walked into a Christmas card,” she said. “There’s nothing better than a great holiday musical.”