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Wednesday, December 2,2009

Let it snow

by Eric Gallippo

As far as we know, the Wharton Center doesn’t hold any sway over the weather, but we’re guessing the folks in charge over there are hoping nostalgia for real snowfall will help spur the crowds next week, when the Broadway touring production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” rolls into town.


With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by David Ives and Paul Blake, the show is based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.


Like the movie, the musical follows army buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who return from war to make a name in show business together. When the two chase a couple of sisters to a Vermont inn, they unsuspectingly reconnect with their former commanding officer who is down on his luck. To raise money for their general and show people still care about him, Wallace and Davis bring their act and other men from the unit to the inn for a special Christmas Eve production.


David Elder, who plays Davis in the show, didn’t see a lot of snow growing up in his native Texas, but he did watch plenty of musicals. “Those old MGM movie musicals are just something I was in love with growing up,” Elder said. “I would just see them dancing — Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and all the likes of them. It was just so inspiring to me as a kid. Getting to do this in my adult life is pretty cool.”


While Elder said he typically plays leading men, he set his sights on Davis when he learned about auditions for the show. “He’s just one of these happy, happy characters who get to dance his butt off,” Elder said.


Of course, another huge draw for him, and audience members, is the music. “The Irving Berlin songs, they’re just the greatest,” Elder said, citing “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” the “eightminute tap-dance explosion” of “I Love a Piano,” and a playful reprise of “Sisters” as his favorite numbers in the show.


Working with such memorable material makes it hard to leave work on stage. “I don’t find it problematic, but yes, [the songs] are right there in the font of my head, and I am humming them all of the time,” he said.


‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’


Dec.
8 – 13 7:30 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday 8 p.m. Friday 2 & 8 p.m.
Saturday 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sunday $31.50 - $67.50 1 (800) WHARTON www.whartoncenter.com



Every time a dinner bell rings


Starlight Dinner Theatre will bring a little song and dance to the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when it opens a musical adaptation of the story with book, lyrics and music by Thomas M. Sharkey this weekend. In case you unplug your TV set every year around this time, “It’s a Wonderful Life” tells the story of George Bailey, who under the guidance of guardian angel Clarence realizes he’s got better things to do on Christmas Eve than jump off of a bridge.


“It’s a Wonderful Life,” by Thomas M. Sharkey, based on the film by Frank Capra. Dinner at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday through Dec. 12. Waverly East Intermediate School, 3131 W. Michigan Ave., Lansing. Dinner and show: $28-$33, show only: $18. (517) 243-6040. www.starlightdinnertheatre.info.


‘Nothing’ for Christmas


Already sick of Christmas stories? Then say, “bah humbug” with the Bard, and skip out on the holiday pageants for LCC Theatre’s Black Box production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The Shakespeare comedy is the third and final installment in the Cooley Law School sponsored “Stages of the Law” series. Seating is limited, and ticket reservations are encouraged.


“Much Ado About Nothing,” by William Shakespeare. 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 6. LCC Black Box, Room 106, Gannon Building, 422 N. Washington Square, Lansing. $5/$10. (517) 483-1018.






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