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