Sunday, November 20, 2016

Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical *** B

While it’s hardly new, this adaptation of the 1942 film that starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire is a welcome addition to the Broadway season. If you are stressed out by the state of the nation, get yourself to Studio 54 where you can return to a simpler, gentler America, at least for 2+ hours. Gordon Greenberg (who also directed) and Chad Hodge have tossed out a few songs (including the blackface number), added several other Berlin standbys, and reworked the plot to make it slightly less ridiculous. For those old enough to remember, it wasn’t the plots that drew us to Hollywood musicals. As Jim Hardy, Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) lacks Bing Crosby’s pipes, but is otherwise fine. As Ted Hanover, Corbin Bleu is an amazing dancer and a charming presence. Megan Sikora is a hoot as Lila Dixon, their dance partner with more ambition than loyalty. As Linda Mason, Lora Lee Gayer looks and acts the part of the local schoolteacher with hidden talents. Comic relief is added by two new characters — Louise (Megan Lawrence), the politically incorrect lesbian live-in “fix-it man” and Charlie Winslow (Morgan Gao), a local child who usually bears ill tidings. The production is quite lavish. The scenic design by Anna Louizos features multiple sets. The 40’s costumes by Alejo Vietti are sensational. The lively choreography by Denis Jones (Honeymoon in Vegas) is well executed by a chorus of 16. Two numbers are showstoppers — “Shaking the Blues Away” and “Let’s Say It with Firecrackers.” The large orchestra and attractive arrangements give Berlin his due. And hearing “White Christmas” twice more won’t kill you. This Roundabout production may be the musical equivalent of comfort food, but a little comfort is most welcome these days. Running time: two hours 15 minutes, including intermission.

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