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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "Holiday Inn", The New Irving Berlin Musical at Studio 54
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "Holiday Inn", The New Irving Berlin Musical at Studio 54

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Roundabout Theatre Company
www.roundabouttheatre.org

Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager/Exec. Producer
Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer

in association with Universal Stage Productions

Presents:
Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical
(Holiday Inn Website)

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge

Starring Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer
Corbin Bleu, Lee Wilkof
Jenifer Foote, Megan Sikora

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Directed by Gordon Greenberg
Choreography by Denis Jones
Music Supervision and Direction by Andy Einhorn

At
Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
NY, NY
212.719.1300

Set Design: Anna Louizos
Costume Design: Alejo Vietti
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Sound Design: Keith Caggiano
Orchestrations: Larry Blank
Vocal and Dance Arrangements: Sam Davis
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Hair & Wig Design: Charles G. LaPointe
Make-up Design: Joe Dulude II
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Production Stage Manager: Michael J. Pasaro
Casting: Jim Carnahan CSA/Carrie Gardner, CSA
&Stephen Kopel, CSA
Press Representative: Polk & Co.
Director of Marketing & Audience Development: Robert Sweibel
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Director of Development: Lynne Guggenheim Gregory
Adams Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 14, 2016


So far, Gordon Greenberg’s production of Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical is my favorite show of Broadway’s (and Off-Broadway’s) fall season. This is not an exact replica of the 1942, Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire film. There are additional characters and additional songs, all by Irving Berlin, of course, but some, like “Heat Wave” and “Blue Skies”, are snatched from other films and the Berlin songbook. The film’s original tunes, “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade”, bring down the house, and tonight’s audience was vocally enthused throughout. Astaire’s night club, tap dancer extraordinaire role is played here by Corbin Bleu, and Crosby’s country crooner, love-hungry role is played by Bryce Pinkham. A stranger to the nature of the upscale Connecticut B&B, called Holiday Inn, might wonder how “Easter Parade” figures in a Christmas show, but this inn puts on a show, holiday after holiday, as long as hoofers and singers are on hand and ready to tap their way with over-the-top, 40’s-era show costumes, to entertain their guests. One lead actress, Megan Lawrence, was off tonight, and we were treated to a lively, witty Jenifer Foote, in her place.

The uncomplicated storyline has the idealistic Jim Hardy (Mr. Pinkham) and the streetwise Ted Hanover (Mr. Bleu) hoofing it up in an ensemble in grand style, as they compete for a flashy, ruthless blonde, Lila Dixon (Megan Sikora), who becomes engaged to Jim. When Lila finds out Jim’s bought a Connecticut farm, she stays single to dance with Ted, since a big break just came through for the ensemble to play the Chicago Pump Room. Meanwhile, Jim becomes ill with buyer’s remorse, as his farm’s overhead is beyond his bank account. The cynical, sarcastic Louise (Ms. Foote) stays on as Jim’s handy helper, although there’s no romance there, and the young, stalwart Charlie Winslow (Morgan Gao) keeps arriving from the bank with legal notes and demands. The ingénue songbird Linda Mason (Lora Lee Gayer), who sold her family farm to Jim and teaches school to make ends meet, is recruited for a Christmas show at Jim’s Mason farm, with his urban buddies making the New England trek between gigs. Of course, Lila leaves Ted for a sugar daddy, and Ted tries to steal Linda, giving Louise false hope, although that angle is understated. The Connecticut shows that the ensemble create are for every holiday, Christmas, New Year’s Valentine’s Day, Easter, July 4th, and so on, allowing for fanciful, festive décor, costumes, and razzmatazz tap dances.

I can’t remember when I last heard a nighttime Broadway crowd screaming with joy, and scream they did. What karma that we were in Studio 54, where the 1990’s club pleasures were sex, drugs, and electric rock. The 1942 pleasures, at this makeshift dance hall inn, were crooning, tapping, jumping rope (a show-stopping, tap-jumping number), making actual firecracker flashes on a tap dance stage, and couples strolling arm in arm, ladies in breathtaking Easter bonnets. Mr. Pinkham played Jim poignantly and longingly with powerful, lush vocals, a modern Crosby. Mr. Bleu was scrappy and snappy, physically the opposite of Fred Astaire, but his dervish hoofing is award-worthy. Ms. Sikora, as Lila, was a silent movie type, one with heart and talent, as well. Ms. Gayer, as Linda, proved to be a rising star, with poise, eloquent vocals, and charisma. In fact, the entire ensemble was filled with charisma, including Mr. Gao and Ms. Foote (a great substitute). One additional character, Lee Wilkof, as Danny, the agent and manager of the holiday and night club acts, was pricelessly endearing, adorable, and a true wit with perfect timing.

Mr. Greenberg has directed this stunning show with taut precision for transporting the audience to another era, one where song and dance envelops and nurtures the urban soul. His generosity in the length and frequency of the tap routines expanded the show’s energy and magnetism. The ensemble, each dancer/actor/singer with a unique look and appeal, is outstanding. Denis Jones has choreographed those numerous numbers with retro authenticity and dazzling allure. Andy Einhorn, Music Director, showcases each ballad for its gorgeous tunes and lyrics. Anna Louizos’ set design and Alejo Vietti’s costume design frame these ballads and romantic narrative with those luscious Easter bonnets and Christmas tree and wreaths, with décor and attire shifting seamlessly in place. Every concept works perfectly in this musical, including lighting, sound, hair, and makeup. I look forward to catching the movie, sometime, just to see the original cast, but I also look forward to seeing this superb Roundabout production once more, to see Ms. Lawrence in the role of Louise and to re-experience those imploding tap numbers.











For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net