Paging Bing and Danny: Revival of “White Christmas” falls flat

  • By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
  • Thursday, December 10, 2009 12:55pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

I attend lots of community theater and for the most part, the shows that I see are good because the actors deliver such a high volume of energy. They are, basically, stoked.

Sadly, I can’t say that I was stoked when I left the 5th Avenue Theatre after the musical “White Christmas.”

I came to the show hoping to be swept away by the razzmatazz, but the show fell flat with a thud like a pair of heavy snow boots. Instead of pizzazz, there was fizzle. Despite the snowflakes on the stage curtains, the show lacked sparkle.

I think to properly revive this dated, 1954 holiday love story, you have to really camp it up.

“White Christmas” is based on the movie musical with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, who play two war buddies turned successful song-and-dance team who hook up with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen) to try to save a retired-Army sergeant’s inn in Vermont from bankruptcy by putting on a spectacular Christmas show.

The musical is filled with an Irving Berlin score of hummable hits including “Happy Holidays,” “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings” and “White Christmas.”

The 5th Avenue cast did an adequate job delivering the music but the show itself didn’t have a smooth flow. The choreography in places seemed bunched up and awkward — especially during the train ride scene to Vermont — and the actors seemed un-energized.

When a show is good, I always willingly — happily — allow myself to be taken over by the fantasy. Here, I squirmed in my seat and felt uncomfortable, like I was at a party trying to politely get away from someone I didn’t want to talk to.

“White Christmas” certainly contained some standout moments. The dancing in “The Best Things Happen While You are Dancing” was delivered with real elan, and Carol Swarbrick was marvelous as the inn keeper’s Martha Watson.

The opening night performance also ushered in the 5th Avenue’s stunning new marquee.

The marquee is more than 57 feet high and contains about 2,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs that are powered by 72 amps.

It was built by the Everett company, CREO Industrial Arts.

Now there was some sparkle.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424;

“White Christmas”

Various times through Dec. 30 at The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle. Tickets start at $25.50; 206-625-1900 or

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