IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS by Irving Berlin, David Ives and Paul Blake, directed by Walter Bobbie. At Sony Centre (1 Front East). To January 5. $37-$150. 416-872-2262. Rating: NN
Based on the 1954 holiday favourite, Irving Berlin's White Christmas is this year's Sony Centre family show. It borrows tunes and story from the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye film and melodies from other Berlin shows, but for its first act, the production is about as charming and entertaining as plastic snow.
You've probably seen the film. Army buds Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, now a celebrated entertainment team, get involved with singing sisters Betty and Judy Haynes and follow them to Vermont. It's December and the local inn, empty because there's no snow, is owned by the guys' former commanding officer. The song-and-dance men commandeer the barn, put on a show and invite their former platoon to celebrate.
But the piece is really about the musical numbers, and for the first half director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Randy Skinner give us little that's memorable; the tone is one of forced joviality. That first act wakes up only when Kate Hennig as the inn's second-in-command electrifies the audience with Let Me Sing And I'm Happy; I wish she had more to do.
It would help if there were even a few molecules of chemistry between the two leads, Graham Rowat 's Bob and Kate Baldwin 's Betty; their sparring and romancing are equally bland. It's left to Tony Yazbeck and Shannon O'Bryan as Phil and Judy to impress us with their dancing and a believable - at least in musical-theatre terms - relationship. The pair is even better in the second act with the I Love A Piano number. In fact, the last half goes a distance toward redeeming what began as a pedestrian production.
Carrie Robbins 's costumes are often fun - you've never seen so many different plaids as in the train scene - but Anna Louizos 's sets feel shoehorned on the reduced Sony stage.
Oh, and the stereotyped too-too-gay stage manager? Not necessary, not funny.