By Tom Witom
OAKBROOK TERRACE – Drury Lane Theatre's production of "White Christmas," featuring the familiar music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and libretto by David Ives and Paul Blake, provides a warm welcome to the holiday season.
Based on a 1954 film of the same name, the stage musical premiered in San Francisco in 2004. Drury Lane's production is directed by William Osetek, who has assembled an exceptional cast led by Sean Allan and Matt Rafterty, as Bob and Phil, two former Army buddies with a flair for song and dance who teamed up for a career in show business.
Thanks to a TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show during the mid-1950s, the two hard-working entertainers became widely popular. Bob and Phil take on a gig to aid a financially struggling out-of-the-way Vermont inn run by their former commanding officer, retired General Henry Waverly (Don Forston).
The sprightly Haynes sisters singing act of Betty (Gina Milo) and Judy (Erika Stephan) further livens things up.
Alene Robertson, appearing as the inn's busybody clerk, adds wry humor and a brassy singing voice to the proceedings. Leryn Turlington and Carole Rose Durkin, as dim-witted chorus girls (Rita and Rhoda), also contribute to the fun. And seasoned actor Dale Benson, in a cameo role as a caretaker/handyman, provides further gaiety.
"White Christmas" has its share of colorful, nostalgic costumes by Robert Kuhn, an impressive set by Kevin Depinet, creative choreography by Matthew Crowle, and fine music direction by Roberta Duchak.
Most of all, the production offers a full serving of Berlin's memorable songs, from the title number to "Blue Skies," "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," among others.
Maya Lou Hlava, who plays Susan Waverly, the general's stagestruck young granddaughter, drew widespread applause for "Let Me Sing When I'm Happy," a successful reprise on Robertson's earlier version.