White Christmas

AN R&H THEATRICALS TITLE

White Christmas

Irving Berlin, Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank, David Ives, Paul Blake

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  5f, 6m, 1girl(s)

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin / Based Upon the Paramount Pictures Film Written For the Screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank / Book by David Ives and Paul Blake

Based on the beloved, timeless film, this heartwarming musical adaptation features 17 Irving Berlin songs and a book by David Ives and Paul Blake.

Photo: Joan Marcus

White Christmas
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    5f, 6m, 1girl(s)
  • Duration
    Duration
    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Christmas/Holiday
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Nominee: Two 2009 Tony Awards
    Nominee: Six 2009 Tony Awards

Description

Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil's former army commander. The dazzling score features well-known standards including "Blue Skies," "I Love A Piano," "How Deep Is the Ocean" and the perennial favorite, "White Christmas." White Christmas is an uplifting musical worthy of year-round productions.

History

Notes on White Christmas
by bookwriter David Ives

Walter Bobbie, who so brilliantly first directed (I’d almost say who created) Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, gave a simple, crucial bit of direction to two of the show’s leads one day.

It was fall of 2004. We were rehearsing the show’s premiere production, slated to go up in San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. This was early days of rehearsal, in a New York hall that looked out over 42nd Street’s gaudy chaos toward Times Square. That morning, Brian d’Arcy James and Jeffry Denman were working on the scene where Bob and Phil, former army buddies who’ve become stars, decide to put on a show that will help their friend the General keep his Vermont inn going.

For some reason, the scene was going miserably. No matter how much Brian and Jeffry – wonderful performers both – went back and reattacked it, some necessary piece was missing. I wondered if I should simply rewrite the scene from scratch.

Then Walter stepped in for a word with the two actors.

He said to them, “I want to remind you of one thing. This is a pre-neurotic, pre-Sondheim musical we’re doing. The year is 1954. Bob and Phil are not interested in their feelings, or showing their feelings, or showing what sensitive men they are. They’re men of their time. They don’t want to be sensitive. They want to be decent. They want to help their old army buddy – the same way they’d help each other out of a jam, without thinking. Forget about Bob and Phil. The scene isn’t about them, it’s about the General. Now let’s try it again.”

You could palpably feel a sudden lightening of mood in the whole room, from the two actors and from everyone observing in the cast. It was the lightening that comes of revelation. And lo and behold when Brian and Jeffry launched back in, the scene was utterly changed. It was free. It was uncomplicated. It was joyous. And never again did a scene get stuck that way, because everyone in the room knew that Walter had gone to the heart of White Christmas. From that moment on, the show began to glow.

You see, despite its apparent innocence, White Christmas is a show that’s actually about something. Call it community. Call it the ties that bind. In the army, in show business, in running an inn together, in friendship, in sisterhood, in “the spirit of Christmas,” the characters of White Christmas realize their connections, and their responsibilities, to everyone around them. It’s why Betty feels so morally betrayed when she finds out (wrongly) that Bob is less than he seemed. It’s why generosity runs through the veins of these characters, who live in a world that is perhaps quite alien to us today:  a world in which people are for others, not for themselves.

If I had any advice to give performers, directors, designers launching into this show it would be this:  outward simplicity, and inner generosity. Outward simplicity means not hammering jokes in the contemporary sitcom smirking-mugging manner but letting laugh-lines land as they will, with all the modest ease of 1954. The humor has to come from character, not from knowingness. Inner generosity means making your every acting objective about the other person. Speaking and listening are more important than trying to be funny here because it’s humanity that’s on offer, not snappy lines.

In short, this show can’t be played as a musical of today. To work, it has to remain true both outwardly and inwardly to the era the movie it’s based on was written in. That’s one of the reasons people want to see White Christmas:  because they want to inhabit that more innocent world of 1954 for a couple of hours. A world of uncomplicated friendships and simple, open feelings. It’s the world of everyone’s inner Christmas, where Scrooges are transformed and true love comes wrapped as a gift and snow falls when it’s supposed to.

Simplicity. Generosity. Decency. You can’t go wrong.

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1950s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Setting:

White Christmas takes place in New York City and Vermont in 1954.

Specific Locations 
Somewhere on the Western Front of World War II
The Ed Sullivan Show
Backstage at the Ed Sullivan Show
Jimmy's Back Room The Train Car
The Front Desk of the Columbia Inn in Vermont
The Barn Rehearsal Hall The Front Porch of the Inn
Ralph Sheldrake's Office, New York
Onstage in the Barn Theater
Betty's Room at the Inn
The Regency Room, New York

Casting

5f, 6m, 1girl(s)
Cast Attributes
  • Roles for Children
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
PRINCIPALS
3 Women
3 Men
1 Girl

FEATURED
2 Women
3 Men

ENSEMBLE
Large singing-dancing ensemble consisting of 'Jimmy's Back Room' Clubgoers, Train Passengers, Inn Guests, Chorus Kids, Patrons of the Regency Room

CHARACTERS
Bob Wallace - late 20's to mid 30's, a superb singer with a crooning style who moves well
Phil Davis - late 20's to mid 30's, strong jazz and tap-dancing needed - a song-and-dance comic performer
Betty Haynes - mid to late 20's, a female singer of quiet beauty and charm who must move well
Judy Haynes - early 20's, strong jazz and tap-dancing needed - a major song-and-dance performer
General Henry Waverly - late 50's to mid 60's, with the exception of one line, a non-singing role
Martha Watson - late 40's to mid 60's, a winning, appealing character-comedienne
Susan Waverly - 9 years old, she must have an excellent belt voice and be able to move well
Ralph Sheldrake - mid to late 30's
Rita - mid 20's to early 30's
Rhoda - mid 20's to early 30's
Ezekiel Foster - mid 40's to late 50's
Mike - mid 20's to late 30's
Tessie
Jimmy
Cigarette Girl
Snoring Man
Mrs. Snoring Man
Train Conductor
Dance Captain
Seamstress
Assistant Seamstress
Ed Sullivan Announcer
Regency Room Announcer - offstage voice
Sheldrake's Secretary - offstage voice
'Jimmy's Back Room' Clubgoers
Train Passengers
Inn Guests
Chorus Kids
Patrons of the Regency Room

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large
1. Overture - Orchestra
2. "Happy Holiday" - Bob, Phil
2A. "White Christmas Music Box" - Bob, Phil, Sheldrake, GIs
3. Sullivan Opening - Orchestra
4. "Happy Holiday/Let Yourself Go" - Bob, Phil, Ensemble
5. "Love and the Weather (Part I)" - Bob
5A. "Love and the Weather (Part II)" - Betty, Bob
6. "Sisters" - Betty, Judy
7. "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" - Phil, Judy, Quintet
8. "Snow" - Phil, Judy, Mrs. Snoring Man, Snoring Man, Bob, Betty, Passengers
9. "What Can You Do With a General?" - Martha, Bob, Phil

9A. General Scene Change - Orchestra
9B. Barn Curtain - Orchestra
9C. Always - Piano Solo
9D. "Vocal Warm-Up" - Singers
9E. Waverly's Regulations - Orchestra
10. "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" - Martha
10A. "Martha's Exit/Into Porch" - Martha
11. "Count Your Blessings" - Bob, Betty

12. Into the Rehearsal Hall - Orchestra
13. "Blue Skies" - Bob, Ensemble
14. Entr'acte - Orchestra
15. "I Love a Piano" - Phil, Judy, Ensemble
16. "Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun" - Martha, Betty, Judy
17. "Sisters (Reprise)" - Bob, Phil
18. "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me/How Deep is the Ocean?" - Betty, Bob
19. "The Old Man" - Men

20. "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy (Reprise)" - Susan
20A. "Susan's Exit" - Susan
21. "How Deep is the Ocean? (Reprise)" - Betty, Bob
22. "Blue Skies Overture/ The Old Man (Reprise)" - Men

23. Count Your Blessings Underscore - Orchestra
24. "White Christmas" - Bob, Company
25. Bows - Orchestra
26. "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" - Company

Full Orchestration

Piano Conductor
Reed I (Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone (Lead Flute)
Reed II (Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone (Lead Clarinet)
Reed III (Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone)
Reed IV (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone)
Reed V (Bassoon, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone)
Horn
Trumpet I
Trumpet II
Trumpet III
Trombone I (Tenor Trombone)
Trombone II (Tenor Trombone)
Trombone III (Bass Trombone)
Drums (Traps, Mark Tree, Triangle)
Keyboard I (Big Horns/Trombones, Pizzicato Strings, Strings, Harp, Synth Bells, Celesta, Music Box)
Keyboard II (Celesta, Strings, Winds & Strings, Pizzicato Strings, Arco Strings, Sustained Strings, Strings w/ Magic Bells, String Tremolo w/ shimmer, Harp, Synth Bells, Toy Piano, String Harmonics)
Violins (Divisi - 5 Players Suggested Minimum)
Cello (Divisi)
Bass

Percussion
2 Timpani (F to F)
Glockenspiel
Vibes
Suspended Cymbal
Woodblock
Sleigh Bells
Chimes
Xylophone
Triangle
Castanets
Bell Tree
Metal Cabasa
Marimba
Piccolo Woodblock
Cymbal
Bass Drum
Ratchet
Tambourine


Materials

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
20 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Reed I
1 Reed II
1 Reed III
1 Reed IV
1 Reed V
1 Horn
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Trombone III
1 Drums
2 Percussion
1 Keyboard I
1 Keyboard II
3 Violins
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Logo Pack

Piano Only:
20 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Logo Pack


Optional Keyboard Patches/Programming:

Keyboard patches are available through KeyboardEase by Real Time Music Solutions (RMS) at an additional fee. Interested licensees should reach out to RMS directly to secure KeyboardEase patches.

Additional Material:
A Full Score is available for this title for an additional fee. Please contact your licensing representative for additional information.

Media

Press

"A jolly live extravaganza that only Scrooges can resist." — New York Magazine

Enchanting as a first snow…Audiences drank it up like spiked egg nog.” — San Francisco Examiner

"White Christmas has 'hit' stamped all over it...There just aren't enough superlatives for this irresistible show." — Evening Herald

"A big, boffo Broadway musical with a gorgeous score...the show left me twinkling like a Christmas tree." — Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

"If you're hankering for a fix from the fifties, White Christmas is the perfect gift." — Roma Torre, NY1

"You'll go home happy. A sure-fire seasonal musical. I don't see how anyone who loves Broadway musicals can fail to be pleased by so polished and ingenious a show. The songs are out of Berlin's top drawer." — Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

"Glistens with irresistible, snow-topped charm." - Kate Wyver, The Guardian


Music Samples

Videos

  • Show Clips: White Christmas

  • 2019 West End Trailer

More videos +

Photos

  • White Christmas

    Credit: Joan Marcus

More

Authors

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989). With a life that spanned more than 100 years and a catalogue that boasts over 1,000 songs, he epitomized Jerome Kern’s famous maxim that “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” Berlin wrote scores to 13 Broadway musicals, contributed to seven revues, wrote so ...

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Author

Norman Krasna

Norman Panama

Norman Panama (1914-2003) was a writer, director and producer whose long collaboration with Melvin Frank resulted in a string of memorable film credits that include The Road to Utopia, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and White Christmas.Panama and Frank produced and co-wrote t ...

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Author

Melvin Frank

David Ives

David Ives was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play for Venus In Fur, which has been produced all over the country and the world, and was turned into a film by Roman Polanski. He is also well known for his evenings of one-act comedies All In The Timing and Time Flies. Other pl ...

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Paul Blake

Paul Blake has served as Executive Producer of the St. Louis Muny since 1990; with 11,350 seats, the Muny is America's largest theatre. At The Muny, where Irving Berlin's White Christmas began in Summer 2000, Mr. Blake has produced over 150 productions, which starred such legends as Phyllis Diller, Captain ...

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