Showing posts with label Irving Berlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irving Berlin. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2022

Irving Berlin’s "White Christmas" is a Holiday Spectacular!

by Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Based on the beloved Paramount Pictures film, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas follows two friends and performers, Bob Wallace (Chris Fitting) and Phil Davis (Bryan Jeffrey), from their time serving in World War II in 1944 with General Waverly (Paul McElwee) to appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1954, and eventually ending up at a Vermont inn after meeting Betty and Judy Haynes (Rebecca Schall and Deirdre Treacy), a sister nightclub act.

Complicated romances ensue, and a slew of Vermonters and show people from New York City are introduced. A series of comical and heartwarming situations lead to the grand, happy finale that leaves the audience ready to enjoy the holiday season!

The show is full of Mr. Berlin’s most iconic songs, sumptuously performed by the stellar cast under the fine music direction of Julia Kershetsky and stirring choreography by Jody Anderson. With numbers including Happy Holidays, Sisters, Snow, and of course, the title song, it’s hard not to smile, tap your toes, and dare I say — sing along! The show includes an exciting, seven-minute tap number; I Love a Piano, choreographed by Scott Jacobs and led by Ms. Treacy that brings down the house!

Director Rebecca May Flowers' pacing is perfect for the delightful show. She’s assembled a great group of artists both on and behind the stage. The four leads are fantastic! Mr. Fitting and Mr. Jeffery are charming and they expertly play off of each other.

Bob is the more serious, business-minded of the two, while Phil is a fun-loving go-with-the-flow kind of person. Both men bring much enjoyment to their songs, especially when performing together during Happy Holiday/Let Yourself Go.

Ms. Schall and Ms. Treacy are superb. Both are fabulous as the sisters who steal the men’s hearts. Ms. Schall’s rendition of Love You Didn’t do Right by Me is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Ms. Treacy is exceptional as the feisty Judy. Her dancing is exquisite. Once she steps on top of the piano and continues tapping during the I Love a Piano number, she becomes a star!

The cast is rounded out by a great ensemble, including the wonderful Mr. McElwee as the general who now owns the inn and hysterical Trudy Graboyes as Martha Watson, the inn’s front desk clerk and one time Broadway performer.

With the work of Lighting Designer, Matthew J. Kator; Scenic Designer/Scenic Artist, Jeff Reim; and Props/Set Designer, Amanda Gillies, the stage becomes an enchanting winter wonderland with a Christmas tree and snow! Since The Candlelight Theatre is housed in the former Harvey Barn, the whole space seems to be a part of the show!

The cast is beautifully dressed by costumer Timothy Lamont Cannon. Ms. Schall’s and Ms. Treacy’s final gowns are breathtaking! Wig, Hair, and Makeup Stylist, Clayton Stacey brilliantly complements Mr. Cannon's costumes. His wigs are gorgeous! Both men perfectly capture the 1950s time period with their work.

Get into the holiday spirit by seeing White Christmas in an actual barn at The Candlelight Theatre! The show runs through December 23. Visit for information and tickets.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Rainbow Chorale Shines and Shares the Holiday Light

By Christine Facciolo

The weather outside was frightful...but the voices of The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware were oh so delightful at St. David’s Episcopal Church in North Wilmington on Friday evening, November 30.

The Rainbow Chorale
Delaware’s first LGBTQ vocal ensemble offered its holiday concert — Share the Light — under the very capable direction of Anthony M. Condoluci-Smith, the group’s interim artistic director.

The success of any choral concert naturally lies in the quality of the singing and this was an evening of some mighty fine singing.

Condoluci-Smith assembled a program that showed off the voice to best advantage as it underscored the ensemble’s mission of inclusion and acceptance.

The program opened with a welcoming gesture to the audience as it sang the playful You’re Home for the Holidays and the concert’s namesake Share the Light, which emphasized the urgent need for people of diverse backgrounds to come together in love and acceptance. The theme continued with Where There is Light in the Soul, a setting of a Chinese proverb and True Light, featuring the solo voice of Jay Simmons.

The ensemble celebrated the holiday traditions of other cultures and ethnic groups with performances of Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Candles) featuring the soaring soprano of soloist Anne E. Shuman, An African Celebration, Ding Dong Merrily on High (the beloved French carol) and from Estonia Ule Lume Lagedale (Over Snowy Winter Roads).

The program recognized that the holidays are not always a happy time for some (Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind) but gave hope that there is still peace (There Will Be Rest) to be found if we look to the light of the stars and listen to the music of the stillness.

Of course, there is plenty of joy in the holidays and that was reflected in a jazzy rendition of the traditional We Three Kings (think Dave Brubeck’s Take Five) Deck the Halls (in 7/8 time no less) and Irving Berlin’s Snow, which recalls a child’s playful romp in the white stuff.

PRISM, the chorale’s ensemble of select voices, offered two selections 
 Northern Lights and Sure on this Shining Night — that described the mystery and emotion of starlight as it guides us through life as well as O Magnum Mysterium, which told of the mystery of the miraculous birth.

The ensemble would return in the second half of the program with a rollicking rendition of Jingle Bells and Dashing Through the Snow.

The concert concluded with members of the chorale surrounding the audience to sing The Work of Christmas, reminding everyone that the good will of the season does not end with the holidays.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Folks, Get Your Tickets...Annie's Got Her Gun!

Annie &Frank. Photo courtesy of The Brandywiners.
Danielle Rice is Executive Director of the Delaware Art Museum. She and her husband, Dr. Jeffrey Berger, are theater and music lovers and support all of the arts in Delaware.
It certainly didn’t hurt that the weather was absolutely perfect, but we were thrilled to finish off a busy week with dinner and a show al fresco. The Brandywiners that energetic community theater group that has been staging summer shows at Longwood Gardens for 60 years  this year arranged a special 15% discount for theater-goers with local restaurants. So we gladly started our evening with a relaxed (and discounted!) dinner at Buckley’s.

We arrived at Longwood with half an hour to spare and we spent it strolling amidst the glorious gardens. There’s nothing better for washing away the stresses of the workweek! We were delighted to see that the outdoor theater was almost full to capacity with a diverse and enthusiastic crowd, and, of course, we always love seeing the illuminated fountains that serve as curtains while we wait for the show to begin.

Annie Get Your Gun is based on the remarkable true story of Annie Oaklely, the first major American entertainment celebrity. Born in poverty in rural Ohio, Annie supported her family with hunting and trapping and at age 15 she defeated Frank Butler in a shooting match but won his heart. The two were married and enjoyed a long relationship and partnership in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The Broadway musical, which opened at the Imperial Theatre on May 16, 1946, was written specifically for Ethel Merman, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin from the book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields. It was the biggest Broadway hit of Merman's career. The 1999 Broadway revival, which showcased Bernadette Peters, was updated for modern times. Not only did Peter Stone make revisions to Herbert and Dorothy Fields's original book (the story is now a show within a show, namely Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show), but there have been revisions to Berlin's original score as well. It is this version that The Brandywiners are staging at Longwood Gardens this summer.

The show opens with that old time favorite, There’s No Business Like Show Business which becomes the recurring theme (and of course we all go out humming it to ourselves). Other recognizable tunes include That Girl That I Marry, You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun and of course, the absolutely delicious Anything You Can Do, which will have your kids singing for a long time to come! The Brandywiners’ production features clever sets that roll in and out of the hedges and dazzling costumes. Rebecca Buswell Kostifas gives us an adorable and energetic Annie who blasts out her numerous songs with confident gusto. Robert Welch is cast as Frank Butler 
 the man that Annie has to figure out how to win over after winning over him with her shooting. While a bit stiff as an actor, Welch has a lovely voice that pairs beautifully with Kostifas’.

It took the large cast a bit of time to get into the swing of things and the first act dragged a bit, but the second act was sheer delight. The Ballroom Scene was exquisite in the unadorned garden setting and the choreography was tight and effective. The dance performed by Winnie (Carolyn Peck) and Tommy (Ricky Rotandi) was exceptional. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delightful children’s ensemble and in particular Jessie (Alie Weldon), Nellie (Nicole Hemphill) and Little Jake (Misha Teixido) who perform a show-stopping Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly in the first act.

All in all, Annie Get Your Gun marks another ambitious success for The Brandywiners, and it is well worth seeing. Be sure to check out all the area restaurants that are offering the discounted dinners throughout the run of the show.

Get tickets and additional information at: but please, leave your guns at home!