Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 5, 2010

OTP performs 'White Christmas' through Nov.

TRAVERSE CITY — The much-loved movie "White Christmas" is a holiday viewing tradition in many households.

This November, patrons can see the film come alive on stage when the Old Town Playhouse performs the musical version of the 1954 movie that starred Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" opens tonight, Nov. 5, and runs through Nov. 27 at the Traverse City community theater.

"It's a Christmas classic. I watch it every year. I've been watching it since I was a kid. I wanted to be Danny Kaye when I was a kid," said Playhouse Executive Director Phil Murphy, who is directing the show.

While the movie is a longtime favorite, the stage musical premiered only about five years ago. It follows the same story line as the movie, introducing two entertainers who stage a show to help save a struggling Vermont inn operated by their former World War II general. Featured Berlin songs include "Happy Holidays," "Blue Skies," "Count Your Blessings" and "White Christmas." The Playhouse production features plenty of tap dance and several numbers not included in the original movie, Murphy said.

"The dancing, I think, will stand out," he said.

Kate Botello plays the big, broad, loud, "old-school theatrical-type" character Martha Watson, who in the movie is called Emma. Botello performs "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," a song she calls "the song of a lifetime."

"It's just a joy to sing, and it's so much fun," she said.

Like the movie, the musical is "old-fashioned" and "warm-hearted," Botello said. Like others in the Playhouse production, actor Phil Callighan, who plays Bob Wallace, has fond memories of watching the movie with his family.

"It's a lot of fun and the musical version is a little bit different from the movie, but the core of the story is still there. And, they've put in a lot more musical numbers," Callighan said.

Murphy said he's had "nightmares" over the show because he feels a responsibility to the material and music he loves so much.

"I want it to be solid. I want it to be one of the best things that the Playhouse has done," he said. "I want it to be, ultimately, a Christmas card for everybody."

Adults tickets are $25. For more information, visit the website or call the box office at 947-2210.

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