’White Christ­mas’ just isn’t all that it could be

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE - For more things to do, see our list­ings on austin360.com. By Cate Blouke Spe­cial to the Amer­i­canS­tates­man ‘WHITE CHRIST­MAS’ When: Where: Tick­ets: In­for­ma­tion:

We may be un­der­go­ing a bit of a heat wave in Austin this De­cem­ber, but Zach The­atre is work­ing to keep the hol­i­day spirit alive with Irv­ing Berlin’s “White Christ­mas,” run­ning now through Dec. 30 in the brand new Topfer The­atre.

Based on the clas­sic 1950s Bing Crosby film, “White Christ­mas” fol­lows two World War II army bud­dies who make it big on Broad­way af­ter the war. Look­ing for a sis­ter act to put in their new show, Phil Davis (Matt Gib­son) tricks his part­ner Bob Wal­lace (Matthew Red­den) into fol­low­ing some girls up to a lodge in Ver­mont — only to find the place empty as a re­sult of un­sea­son­ably warm weather. It turns out the place is run by their old com­mand­ing gen­eral (Har­vey Guion), and his ho­tel is in dire fi­nan­cial straits. Wal­lace and Davis hatch a scheme to get the lodge back in the black, over­com­ing the nec­es­sary hi­jinks and amorous ob­sta­cles of any Through Dec. 30 Topfer The­atre, Zach The­atre, 1510 Toomey Road $40 to $105.

www. zachthe­atre.org . good ro­man­tic com­edy.

Af­ter her award-nom­i­nated role in last year’s “Next To Nor­mal” where she played a mid­dleaged mother of two, we are a bit sur­prised to see Mered­ith McCall star­ring as Betty Haynes, the ro­man­tic lead in this pro­duc­tion. In ad­di­tion, McCall’s voice, though pow­er­ful, doesn’t pair very well with Matthew Red­den’s gen­tler, Crosby-like croon­ing. Red­den’s singing is a joy to hear, and this pro­duc­tion of­fers the tal­ented ac­tor a much bet­ter plat­form to show­case his voice than his role as the spacey beach boy he played in Xanadu.

As Martha Wat­son, the ma­tronly re­cep­tion­ist, Bar­bara A. Schoen­hofer ab­so­lutely shines, adding en­ergy and hi­lar­ity to all of her scenes. As the younger Haynes sis­ter, Elizabeth Koepp is lovely — com­mit­ting her­self to char­ac­ter and keep­ing ev­ery­one on their toes (lit­er­ally).

The show features some en­er­getic tap num­bers that are a treat for Austin au­di­ences, and in spite of some awk­wardly static en­sem­ble scenes, di­rec­tor Nick De­mos’ chore­og­ra­phy is a lot of fun.

Deb­o­rah Roberts’ cos­tumes are full of glitz and glam, but this doesn’t quite com­pen­sate for the poor tai­lor­ing that leaves many of the cast mem­bers in un­flat­ter­ing at­tire.

In spite of open­ing its doors to crit­ics a full week into the run, the show was still hav­ing sound prob­lems on Thurs­day night.

Zach has de­cided to call their first week of per­for­mances “previews” de­spite charg­ing full price for the tick­ets — the same price as Broad­way Across Amer­ica tour­ing pro­duc­tions, in fact. And although the show will un­doubt­edly put you in the hol­i­day spirit, for the price — top ticket prices for “White Christ­mas” are $105 — the pro­duc­tion sim­ply isn’t all it could be.

Betty Haynes (played by Mered­ith McCall), Bob Wal­lace (played by Matthew Red­den), Judy Haynes (played by Elizabeth Koepp) and Phil Davis (played by Matt Gib­son) are sur­rounded by the cast of Zach The­atre’s “White Christ­mas.”

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