Congratulations to the cast and crew of Notre Dame's Spring Musical White Christmas. Below, see some of the Cappies reviews of the musical.
Christmas in April
by Nathan Hinds of Holt High School
Combine two performing veterans, two enthusiastic starlets, a clash of personalities, and a dash of Christmas spirit and the result is the stage adaption of Irving Berlin’s "White Christmas." The holidays came early for Notre Dame High School as this production brought together an assortment of excellent tap dancing, singing, acting, and snow.
Based on the cherished 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, "White Christmas" follows the story of the duo act of Phil Davis and Bob Wallace and their encounter with the sister act of Judy and Betty Haynes. The four find themselves at a lodge in an uncharacteristically warm Vermont at Christmastime which is owned by Wallace and Davis’s esteemed General Thomas Waverly from their army days. In an effort to boost the General’s morale and business, the group decides to launch a show for the holidays. As romance ensues between Phil and Judy, tension arises between Bob and Betty. As the show develops, so does the love story, and by Christmas, the couples enjoy merriment and a blizzard.
Leading the large cast was the dynamic quartet of Mark Messmer as Wallace, Charlie Moody as Davis, and Katherine Potts and Emma McCann as Betty and Judy Haynes, all of whom were fully committed to their roles with their skillful acting and singing. Notably in the number “Sisters,” Potts and McCann were in perfect harmony, highlighting their onstage chemistry. The reprisal of the number with Messmer and Moody was a hilarious response, as they earned heaps of laughter while imitating Betty and Judy.
The major characters were backed by animated supporting characters and an energetic ensemble. Particularly, Emily Jean Henry as the meddlesome hotel manager Martha and Jack Ruzicka as the deflated General Waverly played well off one another and created an outstanding comedic relationship through their distinct characters. The large ensemble proved to be a unit of experienced individuals, utilizing their tap dancing abilities in several numbers, especially the show stopping “I Love A Piano.”
Technical elements were equally matched to the quality of the actors. The lighting designs followed the mood of the show, particularly during the opening scene in which they were employed to illustrate a battlefield under fire. Exquisite sets swept the audience to each specific location and perfectly fit within the intended time period. The stage crew swiftly moved these large pieces on and off stage with ease, helping to speedily move along the action.
While the production was an overall triumph, some issues were encountered. Sometimes, chemistry was lacking among the cast, although each individual was exceptionally strong on his or her own. While sound proved to be a minor issue as microphones occasionally cut in and out, the actors covered well with their excellent characterization.
The students of Notre Dame High School effectively brought the spirit of Christmas to the stage with the warmth of their acting, singing, and dancing. While it may be spring outside, this production will certainly have the audience dreaming of a “White Christmas.”
"The Best Things Happen" at Notre Dame's White Christmas
by Olivia Ellis of Nerinx Hall
The Christmas spirit was alive at Notre Dame’s performance of White Christmas, which spread the holiday cheer so well that one could hardly believe it was not actually Christmas. Complete with gorgeous sets, beautiful voices, and glistening snow, the production did not fail to make the audience smile. Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, friends who fought together during World War II, have found success in show business. They meet the beautiful sisters Betty and Judy Haynes and end up traveling to Vermont, where Bob and Phil discover that their former general, Henry Waverly, owns an inn that is struggling financially. They come up with a plan to put on a Broadway-quality production that will save the inn.
Based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, White Christmas was first performed in 2004. With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by David Ives and Paul Blake, White Christmas is a feel-good musical that features stunning dance numbers and melodic harmonies. Despite the obstacles the characters encounter along the way, they discover love, success, and the importance of being thankful.
Notre Dame’s cast was nothing short of fabulous. Mark Messmer (Bob Wallace) accurately portrayed his character and led the vocals in many songs throughout the show. Katherine Potts (Betty Haynes) had a beautiful voice and a powerful stage presence. It was a delight to watch the relationship between Betty and Bob develop, and they complemented each other perfectly. Charlie Moody (Phil Davis) was both a charming ladies’ man and reliable friend to Bob. He and Emma McCann (Judy Haynes) were a perfect pair, wonderfully portraying their carefree, loving relationship.
Jack Ruzicka (General Henry Waverly) portrayed his authority with ease, and Emily Jean Henry (Martha Watson) provided comedic relief during her show-stopping numbers. Rachel Rone (Susan Waverly), the adorable granddaughter of the general, successfully charmed the audience. Also notable was Andrew Johnson (Mike), the frustrated stage manager who frantically ran across the stage.
The costumes portrayed the time period perfectly, and especially notable were the stunning red dresses in the finale. The elaborate sets were fantastic, helping to engage the audience. Also impressive were the special effects; the falling snow added a lovely touch to the production.
Each cast member was exceptionally talented. Though diction could have been improved at times, the ensemble quickly made up for this by bringing the show to life with energy and enthusiasm. The dance numbers were spectacular, especially the tap number “I Love a Piano.”
Notre Dame’s performance of White Christmas provided for a lovely evening, and the outstanding cast left the reminder to “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.”
by Connor Jenkins of Marquette High School
White Christmas in April? The newly emerging spring weather in St. Louis didn’t stop Notre Dame High School from making Irving Berlin’s iconic black-and-white film burst with color onstage. Presented in their modest gymnasium, Notre Dame’s production of White Christmas took us back to Christmas Eve 1944, joking with the 151st, singing iconic Christmas tunes, and watching in awe at the high energy dance numbers and winter wonderland created onstage.
Based off the 1954 film and book written by David Ives and Paul Blake, this time-tested Christmas classic tells the charming story of a pair of World War II soldiers, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, as they enter show business following the war. Although they have different approaches to romance, they fall for a new act- a duo of singing sisters, Judy and Betty Haynes. After booking a gig in not-so-snowy Vermont, the couples realize they’re going to need a miracle in order to save the life of their former general’s beloved inn.
Mark Messmer (Bob Wallace) and Charlie Moody (Phil Davis) fully dedicate to their characters through their vocal and dancing technique as well as their emotional and comedic characterizations. Channeling the remarkable chemistry that Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye shared onscreen, the pair was unstoppable, with radiant energy from start to finish.
The Haynes sisters (Katherine Potts and Emma McCann) complemented the pair with their finesse as a cohesive duo. Katherine Potts (Betty Haynes) brought the swing and class with her show-stopping “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” while Emma McCann’s (Judy Haynes) peppy personality lit up the stage in “I Love a Piano.”
Karen Esswein and Mariel Tishma’s ingenious set design allowed an impressive variety of different scenes through an efficient and versatile folding set. There were few missed sound cues and crackling throughout the first act, but the sound crew (Micki Wagner and Jackie Buchheit) cleaned these up in the second half of the show.
The technical and production aspects of the show climaxed at the standout numbers “I Love a Piano” and “Blue Skies.” Brilliant choreography allowed the chorus to shine as an ensemble onstage, supporting the energy of the lead characters through dazzling tap numbers and cheery showtunes.
However, nothing was quite as touching as a veterans' tribute using local war veterans during “The Old Man.” Truly a bow on top, this honor was followed by surprise after surprise, from snowfall to a sing-along that left the humble gymnasium filled with the joy and spirit of Christmas.
Christmas in April may sound out of the ordinary, but NDHS’s production of White Christmas showed us that the virtues of friendship, family, true love and the spirit of Christmas are not seasonal.
White Christmas: A Winter Wonderland in April!
by Mario Meyer of Bishop DuBourg
Even though it is now springtime, a little Christmas spirit is enough to remind people of hot cocoa, Christmas caroling, and, of course, snow. On the evening of April 5th, 2013, Notre Dame High School took its audience back to the joyous time of everyone’s favorite holiday: Christmas.
The show opens with Bob Wallace (Mark Messmer) and Phil Davis (Charlie Moody) singing for the troops of the 151st Division. Throughout the entirety of the performance, both Messmer and Moody displayed outstanding chemistry between each other. It is completely believable that the two are good friends through their performance. Playing opposite the two men are Betty (Katherine Potts) and Judy (Emma McCann) Haynes. Potts displayed lovely vocals and a strong, independent woman through her portrayal of Betty, and McCann proved to be a triple threat by excelling in the areas of vocals, acting, and dance. Other standouts within the performance include the strong-willed Martha Watson (Emily Jean Henry) General Henry Waverly (Jack Ruzicka), and, of course, Ezekiel Foster (Jake McCann).
Even though the principle characters lit up the stage with their impeccable vocal abilities, it was when the ensemble joined them that the true energy of the production could be felt. All members of the ensemble seemed like they truly enjoyed being onstage, and none of them lacked a single ounce of energy. Two ensemble members stood out in the performance. Bridget Biundo and Naomi Walsby excelled in the numerous tap numbers within the show, and both had excellent stage presence. Both seem to have great knowledge of numerous types of dance, and many encomiums should be given to both the choreographer of the show and to their private dance instructors.
The technical aspects of the show enhanced the overall performance greatly as well. The light cues were precise and sound cues were never late. The microphones the actors used provided clear sound, but at times they were either too loud or they would cut in and out. Despite this minor flaw, the sound aspect proved to be one of the best. One technical aspect that should be recognized is the set itself. In order to make quick and easy set changes, the set was designed to fold in on itself, with different scenes on either side of the flat. This creative design proved to be very impressive and invaluable to the overall flow of the performance.
The cast and crew at Notre Dame High School should be very proud of their accomplishments through White Christmas. The overall show was truly a wonder to behold, and many will be singing the songs until next Christmas.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS INSTEAD OF SHEEP
by Charlene Haparimwi of Bishop DuBourg
Snow gently floats down on an audience that belts out well-known carols. Christmas came early in springtime this year with Notre Dame High School’s production of White Christmas.
White Christmas is one of those rare novelties when a musical is based off a movie. It is the story of World War II veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis as they transition from the army to a successful entertainment duo. Along the way they meet sisters Betty and Judy Haynes who turn their lives upside down in the way only falling in love can do. There are some differences with Irving Berlin’s version of this classic movie, but the stage production stays true to the heart of the tale.
Katherine Potts shined as reserved, serious sister Betty Haynes. Potts’ powerhouse vocals filled the auditorium and she was truly believable in the role she played. Potts’ relationship with Bob Wallace (Mark Messmer) was well-developed and honest. Messmer is quite the versatile actor, able to be both humorous and heartbreaking when called to be. He commanded the stage every time he was on and was unafraid to stand toe to toe with Betty. Together, Potts and Messmer added that necessary spark to the whole production.
Emma McCann completely committed to her role as the energetic and bubbly Judy Haynes. McCann is an extremely talented dancer and looked so comfortable tapping away. Her duet with Potts called “Sisters” was one to remember, and her relationship with Phil Davis (Charlie Moody) was just as light and fun as she is. Moody complemented Bob Wallace well as the charming and lovable Phil Davis. Moody did his fair share of skilled dancing and never failed to have a smile on his face.
The lights were an integral part of making the show a success, and the light cues by Lucy Freitag were always on time. The movable sets were one of the most amazing parts of the show. They were carefully detailed and varied. The costumes, although sometimes lacking in sticking with the time period, were outstandingly beautiful. The cast always matched well, and the wonderful costumes added another dimension to the cast numbers.
This show was well done, but had some room for improvement. Although the energy of the entire cast was consistently high, which is a feat in and of itself, it sometimes felt like some members of the cast were overacting. The sound was spotty at times and the music tended to overpower the vocalists, but every dance number, especially the ones involving the entire cast, were well executed, and the war veterans appearing at the end of the show was a heartwarming touch.
Notre Dame put on a genuine and exciting show. The whole cast bounced off each other’s energy to give White Christmas the kind of stellar performance it deserves. Notre Dame didn’t leave a dry eye in the audience as they gave such profound advice, “Count your blessings instead of sheep.”
CHRISTMAS IN APRIL
by Hannah Gibbons of Bishop DuBourg
I'm dreaming of a White Christmas...on one of the the first warm days in Saint Louis? On April 5th, 2013, Notre Dame High School put on a riveting performance of WHITE CHRISTMAS.
WHITE CHRISTMAS is the musical production of the 1954 film of the same name. The music and lyrics are by Irving Berlin and the libretto is by David Ives and Paul Blake. It first premiered in San Francisco as part of a US tour and premiered on Broadway in 2008. It stars two old army buddies turned performers, Phil and Bob (Mark Messiner and Charlie Moody) and a pair of superstar sisters, Judy and Betty (Emma McCann and Katherine Potts). Judy and Phil take a liking to each other, but love-deprived Bob and Betty do not at first. When the two couples venture to an inn in rural Vermont to perform, they go through romantic highs and lonely lows during their pursuit to produce a show by Christmas Eve.
Notre Dame's WHITE CHRISTMAS is a charming production with elaborate and energetic choreography, especially during the fantastic tap number, "I Love a Piano". The cast plays off of each other's energy and work together for a fantastic production of high difficulty for a high school level show.
The lead actors and actresses were vocally strong and had excellent stage presence. Charlie Moody (Phil) works well with partner Mark Messiner (Bob). Moody has a charismatic voice and Messiner has a smooth voice that was a joy to hear especially during "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep". Judy and Betty Haynes (Emma McCann and Katherine Potts) have excellent chemistry and really appear to be sisters, especially during "Sisters" and "Falling Out of Love Can be Fun". They are both talented dancers and have crystal-clear, strong vocals. The leads in Notre Dame's WHITE CHRISTMAS are talented all-around.
The supporting cast is just as entertaining as the leads. Martha Watson (Emily Jean Henry), is very natural and was enjoyable to see on stage. Susan Waverly (Rachel Rone) is childlike and endearing. The chorus, while a little unsynchronized at times, is for the most part very energetic, talented, and enjoyable during their intricate dance numbers. There are certain actors in this show that could benefit from pulling back a little with their acting and avoiding inappropriately timed eye-contact with the audience. Despite this, the cast as a whole (leads, supporting actors, and ensemble) is fantastic and made a for an energetic stage production.
The technical aspects of this show are wonderful. While there is a bit of fuzziness with the microphones, it does not last the whole show.The orchestra is beautiful and keep one's foot tapping the entire show. The lights are breath-taking. The combination of the stage lights, the spot light, and the vibrantly colored foot lights gives an aesthetically pleasing effect that was always on point. There is a incredibly large array of different sets that are all of lovely quality and ingenuity, including flats that unfold to rooms. The cherry on top of the technical side of WHITE CHRISTMAS is the "snow" that mists the audience and the Christmas lights that illuminate during the finale of the show. The technical aspects really add to the enjoyment of Notre Dame's WHITE CHRISTMAS.
Notre Dame's production of WHITE CHRISTMAS was captivating and filled to the brim with engaging musical numbers. Kudos to Notre Dame for bringing a rush of the Christmas spirit in April!
by Allie Sanderson of Holt High School
There's nothing but blue skies shining on Notre Dame High School in its production of White Christmas. Although it may be April, Notre Dame certainly sparked a winter holiday spirit. Based on the enchanting film, the stage production of White Christmas tells the story of two WWII Army buddies who become successful performers. The two, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, meet young sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes, who instantly steal their hearts. When the boys are reunited with their army general after a surprise trip to Vermont, the two couples put their heads together to save the General's business and create a fantastic white Christmas.
Notre Dame's enthusiastic production was led by Mark Messmer (Bob Wallace) and Charlie Moody (Phil Davis). Moody's strong dancing and Messmer's charm and charisma made them notable characters. Serving as female leads were Katherine Potts (Betty Haynes) and Emma McCann (Judy Haynes). Potts' strong vocals warmed hearts while McCann's fluidity and talent in her dancing impressed.
Also enjoyable in the cast were supporting characters such as Jack Ruzicka (General Henry Waverly) and Jack Zimmerman (Ralph Sheldrake). Ruzicka was a believable and sincere elderly man. His character remained consistent throughout the show. Moreover, Zimmerman possessed strong character choice and interacted well with characters on stage. Comedy was brought to the performance by Emily Jean Henry (Martha Watson) and Jake McCann (Ezekiel Foster). Henry's commanding presence controlled the stage, while McCann's few striking words sparked uproars of laughter from the audience.
Adding to the show were the technical elements. A beautifully painted scrim began the production, creating a scene of a winter wonderland. Throughout the performance, numerous set pieces were utilized, especially notable in the "Jimmy's" scene, the "Columbia Inn", and the barn. Special effects, such as fog and falling snow, created enthused reactions from the audience. Costumes such as Santa dresses for dancers, a stunning black gown for Betty Haynes, and white dance outfits for the entire cast fit the time period well and were fun and creative.
Overall, White Christmas was an entertaining performance, but it did contain a few minor flaws. Although the ensemble performed grand dance numbers, especially in " I love A Piano," the vocals were consistently lacking. Also disappointing were slow set changes and shaky lighting. Special effects were enjoyable but at times seemed unnecessary and inappropriate for the scene. However, the energy and enthusiasm of the entire cast easily covered these flaws.
Notre Dame High School's production of White Christmas made for an enjoyable evening. The ending, with an entrance of military veterans to sing the closing song, brought the audience to its feet, warmed by an energetic performance and the joy of Christmas.
Christmas in April
by Kari Leigh Brinkley of Holt High School
On Saturday night, Christmas came early. The audience experienced a heartwarming love story of two seemingly unfeeling partners who are forced together by their business partner and sister by being stuck in an inn in Vermont. Despite the struggle against the real world’s seasons, the actors and technicians of Notre Dame High School made White Christmas an enjoyable evening.
Unlike many other musicals and plays, White Christmas was written by David Ives and Paul Blake as an adaptation of the 1954 movie of the same name. The music and lyrics created by Irving Berlin were orchestrated by Larry Blank on Broadway to receive a 2009 Drama Desk Award and one of the show’s two Tony Award nominations. The other was attributed to Randy Skinner for Best Choreography. The show ran on Broadway for the 2008-2009 winter season and returned the next year for a revival during the Christmas season.
There were a multitude of strong actors in the night’s performance. Judy Haynes (Emma McCann) snatched the attention of the audience every time she danced or sang on the stage. Her bubbly portrayal of the character heightened the contrast between her and her sister perfectly, while her jealous tendencies with Phil made her a believable lover. Her chemistry with everyone on stage was to be applauded. Bob Wallace (Mark Messmer) effectively acted the role of a stubborn and sassy entertainer. His portrayal was dynamic and changed when the character changed, revealing a sensitive and caring character. Phil Davis (Charlie Moody) demonstrated his dancing talents quite well, while acting his on-stage relationships beautifully. Betty Haynes (Katherine Potts) had the voice of the night and really bloomed as a character during her solo piece.
General Henry Waverly was very effectively portrayed by Jack Ruzicka. His yearning to go back into the war touched the audience, as did his relationship with Martha Watson (Emily Jean Henry). Jake McCann did an excellent job of comically acting the role of Ezekiel Foster. The audience was itching to know what he would say next each time he lumbered onto the stage. The exceptional dancing of Bridget Biundo must be mentioned, as she confidently acted as she delivered every piece of the choreography perfectly. Equally notable was the professional and energetic performance of Jake Wobbe during all of the musical numbers, especially “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me.” The overall energy of the cast was impressive and commendable.
This production, however, was not simply and actor-driven show. The technical aspects of set, costumes, lighting, sound, and make up were equally important. The set (Karen Esswein and Mariel Tishma) was beautifully executed. The functionality of the panels on either side of the stage made a splash as technicians unfolded them like a book for multiple scenes. The costumes (Bev Miller) were very impressive, including the handmade dresses for Santa costumes and Betty’s elegant gown at the Regency Room. The lighting (Lucy Freitag) aspect of the show was challenged by events such as a bombing in the first act and several direct cues from the stage. Each was delivered flawlessly and there were no problems with the lighting at all. The sound (Micki Wagner and Jackie Buchheit) had a few minor microphone problems where some lines were dropped or an offstage microphone was left on, but overall, it was effective with no major problems, which is difficult to accomplish for such an involved produ
ction. The make-up team (Sylvia Doucot) did an exceptional job with the make-up of General Henry Waverly as he suddenly and believably aged ten years. The use of the snow machines and the smoke machines generally added to the show as a touch of special effects (Claire McCann).
There were only a few problems with the night’s show. The singing at times fell a little flat, and the harmonies weren’t always there. Some actors overacted their part which at times could be distracting. Overall, the show was a success.
White Christmas at Notre Dame High School was a charming experience and a reminder of how the Christmas spirit can be exhibited at any time of year.
The Forecast says White Christmas
by Molly Grotha of Marquette High School
1950s music plays softly through the speakers, causing foot tappers to warm up for the main event. A snow dusted drop of a wintry town encased in a snow globe hangs in front of the stage. The music picks up and the drop is released. Notre Dame High School transported the audience back in time for an intriguing take on the beloved American musical: White Christmas.
White Christmas tells the tale of Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, WII soldiers who find their love of show business while performing for their fellow soldiers. Once back in the states, Wallace and Davis immerse themselves in performing, and women in Davis’ case. But when set up for a blind date with the two Haynes sisters, the men receive more than they bargained for as they follow the girls to sunny Aspen. As the show progresses, Aspen’s unusual weather isn’t the only surprising event.
Mark Messmer and Charlie Moody lead the show as Bob Wallace and Phil Davis. Messmer exhibits lovely vocals and a charming personality during his various songs, such as Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep, although at times lacking in character depth, his acting ability falters. Whether he was showcasing his superb tapping ability or trying to cheer up his buddy, Charlie Moody as Phil Davis never broke that boyish smile and constantly maintained high energy. Possessing comedic timing is one thing, but combined with Moody’s voice inflection created a whirlwind of laughter.
The leading ladies in this show place a strong impression together, but individually succeed at very different points. Katherine Potts as Betty Haynes creates a realistic character, although at times comes across slightly dull. Potts’ solo during Love, You Didn’t do Right by Me was show stopping and displayed her beautiful voice. Emma McCann, who played Judy Haynes, performed in a completely different manner. Clearly one of the best dancers in the show, McCann thrived during heavy dancing scenes. Although, her jumpy movements, unnecessary facials, and dominant personality often times distracted from her words or even at times from other scenes.
Overacting was an issue in this show, as well as its protagonist of underacting. Performers should be careful to balance each other out, rather than upstage one another. Costumes were often times a huge success in enrapturing the 1950s feel, although at times consisted of pieces one might see today.
At first the set seemed simple, but once further revealed showed its complexity. Karen Esswein and Mariel Tishma, scenic designers, managed to succeed. Throughout the many scenes, the sets never failed to clearly demonstrate the location. Scene changes were often extensive, but it is understood why once the new set is revealed.
Overcoming various difficulties, Notre Dame High School put themselves out on stage with no fears, and even withdrew tears from the audience as real U.S. veterans joined in on a song. The ability to capture the essence of Christmas, in April nonetheless, is really something to cheer for.
by Alex Bush of Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School
It may be April, but that won’t stop the kids of Notre Dame High School from dreaming of a White Christmas!
Released in 1954, the movie musical White Christmas has become a holiday favorite among families, featuring classic songs and dance numbers that have lived on through pop culture references and continued appearances on holiday radio stations. It was not until 2004 that a staged production was adapted and it has been touring the country and performing for holiday runs on Broadway throughout the last decade. It has proven to be a formidable financial and critical success.
The production filled some terrifically high-energy performances, particularly by Emma McCann who demanded the attention of the audience with her highly expressive face, beautiful voice, and fearless dancing. Her sister, played by Katherine Potts had equally impressive skills, such as an astounding voice that captivated the audience in her solo during the second act. With their duet, Sisters, their voices were stunning and complimented each other’s wonderfully. Another standout among the company was Charlie Moody as Phil Davis who had extensive charisma, which perfectly matched his flirtatious, outgoing character.
The ensemble as a whole always had extensive energy, which they put into each performance. Large group numbers such as “Blue Skies” which featured a majority of the ensemble required many to tap and you could see the work they put in. While they could have been sharper with their movements, they made up for it with constant smiles on their faces and dedication to their performances. Some members of the cast were not on par with the majority of the rest in commitment to dance, but the overall group’s effort made that easy to overlook in retrospect.
Technically, the show ran with only a few glitches. The lighting team made bold choices, which often paid off, adding layers to scenes and keeping it visually engaging. The costumes were a true highlight, true to the era and seeming almost as if they were Broadway level in certain scenes. All the girls who put effort into them should be very proud. The set worked very well and made it simple to change between scenes, however the set changes still took longer than they should have at times.
White Christmas was a fun, energetic production, and despite the warm weather that has come our way, the production proved that nothing lifts spirits like a Christmas miracle.
THE SNOW MUST GO ON
by Abby Hebenstreit of Nerinx Hall
Entering Notre Dame High School’s auditorium on the spring evening of April 5, I wondered how the cast and crew of Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS would ever manage to put the audience into the Christmas spirit on a night of such warm weather -- with any thought of snow far out of mind. I was pleasantly surprised by the heart-warming performance that brought a wonderful white Christmas to April for me.
The story centers on Phil Davis and Bob Wallace, from their early days fighting and entertaining in the army to fame and through bright ideas, misunderstanding, frustration, helpful schemes, and lessons learned. Following singing sisters Betty and Judy Haynes to Vermont for the Christmas season, the boys are reunited with their now retired general, Henry Waverly. To bring more business to his inn and brighten his days, they put together a show, with help from old friends and all whom they meet at the inn, and invite the entire 151st division. Couples Phil and Judy and Bob and Betty experience ups and downs in their relationships together, but end up happy together.
The believable relationships built, and skillful song and dance performances given by Mark Messmer as Bob, Charlie Moody as Phil, Katherine Potts as Betty, and Emma McCann as Judy are enhanced by the ceaseless attention to detail and energy of the entire ensemble. During long, large-scale dance songs such as “I Love a Piano,” all cast members avoid being lost on stage by putting all of their energy into their moves and keeping up with challenging choreography. Ensemble actors keep in character during all scenes, making their on-stage presence influential to the believability of the story.
Sets are crucial to the presentation of WHITE CHRISTMAS, as there are many changes in scenery. Extravagant and detailed set pieces designed by Karen Esswein and Mariel Tishma and built by other students help develop the plot, though long and clunky set changes distract from the performance.
Costumes are also vital to the development of characters in WHITE CHRISTMAS. Six Notre Dame students are responsible for many of the costumes seen in this show. From Santa Claus suits to lovely dancing dresses, costumes cheer up the stage and contribute to the vivacious presence of the main characters on stage.
Actors effectively work around occasions such as falling microphones, sound system problems, and prop misplacement, never becoming distracted or stepping out of character. By staying in control, they keep the show running smoothly.
The more-than-adequate ensemble, well-executed choreography, and cheery costumes are only a few of many wonderfully prepared elements of Notre Dame’s entertaining and enjoyable bringing to life of Christmas in April.