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Cappies: Any time is right for this 'White Christmas'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 10, 2013 - The Christmas spirit was alive at Notre Dame’s performance of “White Christmas,” which spread the holiday cheer so well that one could hardly believe it was not actually Christmas. Complete with gorgeous sets, beautiful voices and glistening snow, the production did not fail to make the audience smile.

Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, friends who fought together during World War II, have found success in show business. They meet beautiful sisters Betty and Judy Haynes and end up traveling to Vermont, where Bob and Phil discover that their former general, Henry Waverly, owns an inn that is struggling financially.  They come up with a plan to put on a Broadway-quality production that will save the inn.

Based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, “White Christmas” was first performed as live theater in 2004. With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by David Ives and Paul Blake, “White Christmas” is a feel-good musical that features stunning dance numbers and melodic harmonies. Despite the obstacles the characters encounter along the way, they discover love, success and the importance of being thankful.

Notre Dame’s cast was nothing short of fabulous. Mark Messmer (Bob Wallace) accurately portrayed his character and led the vocals in many songs throughout the show. Katherine Potts (Betty Haynes) had a beautiful voice and a powerful stage presence. It was a delight to watch the relationship between Betty and Bob develop, and they complemented each other perfectly. Charlie Moody (Phil Davis) was both a charming ladies’ man and reliable friend to Bob. He and Emma McCann (Judy Haynes) were a perfect pair, wonderfully portraying their carefree, loving relationship.

Jack Ruzicka (Gen. Henry Waverly) portrayed his authority with ease, and Emily Jean Henry (Martha Watson) provided comedic relief during her show-stopping numbers. Rachel Rone (Susan Waverly), the adorable granddaughter of the general, successfully charmed the audience. Also notable was Andrew Johnson (Mike), the frustrated stage manager who frantically ran across the stage.

The costumes portrayed the time period perfectly, and especially notable were the stunning red dresses in the finale. The elaborate sets were fantastic, helping to engage the audience. Also impressive were the special effects; the falling snow added a lovely touch to the production.

Each cast member was exceptionally talented. Though diction could have been improved at times, the ensemble quickly made up for this by bringing the show to life with energy and enthusiasm. The dance numbers were spectacular, especially the tap number “I Love a Piano.”

Notre Dame’s performance of “White Christmas” provided for a lovely evening, and the outstanding cast left the reminder to “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.”

Olivia Ellis is a student at Nerinx Hall High School. The Cappies program works with students who review high school productions.

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