There is something to be said for a classic. The combination of familiarity, simplicity and timelessness can be a force to be reckoned with if done well.
The touring production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” now playing now through Nov. 22, at the Fox Theatre, is a classic done extremely well and the result is a crowd-pleasing entertainment extravaganza.
Based on the holiday classic that starred Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, “White Christmas” is one of those shows that is a combination of a great songwriter and a thin, but enjoyable plot.
Set in 1954, the story centers on famed song-and-dance team Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton), who wind up in a snowless Vermont just before Christmas and decide to put on a show to save the business of their beloved commander from the war, General Waverly (Conrad John Schuck).
Along the way, the boys make the acquaintance of the lovely Haynes Sisters, Betty (Kerry Conte) and Judy (Kelly Sheehan). Good-natured romance ensues.
This is a show filled with smiling faces, corny jokes, and over-the-top characters, like Waverly’s brassy concierge and all-around busybody Martha Watson (Pamela Myers).
The cast is incredibly well-rounded and each member plays a vital part to the balance of the production. Montgomery has the handsome face and the great voice, Benton and Sheehan do the clowning and the dancing, Conte is there for the torch songs, Watson and Cliff Bemis (who plays the slow-witted stagehand Ezekiel) are the relentless comic relief and Schuck is the heart of the show and brings it all together with a beautifully delivered monologue before the finale.
Of course, the songs are all great, as this Irving Berlin guy was no slouch. “White Christmas” is a holiday standard to the point it is wisely downplayed in the production. Classics like “Snow” and “Sisters” are cleverly staged as some familiar numbers mirror the film, while others feature a more original take.
Interestingly, the most memorable numbers from the show feature Berlin songs that didn’t appear in the movie. They are full displays of song and dance and are done to perfection.
“Blue Skies” as crooned by Montgomery closes the first act, while “I Love a Piano” opens the second and features Benton, Sheehan and the chorus in one of the more impressive dance routines to hit the stage of the Fox in a long while.
Aptly closing out the show during the curtain call is the great “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.”
There are plenty of reasons why “White Christmas” has stood the test of time and meant so much to so many generations. More than anything, though, it is the trifecta of ease, quality and earnestness. The touring production nails all three and is nothing short of a joyous spectacle. If that’s not a holiday treat, I don’t know what is.
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” is playing now through Nov. 22, at the Fox Theatre. For tickets call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.