The New Richmond High School music department has never shied away from major productions when it comes to the school’s Fall musical having produced the likes of West Side Story.
But somehow White Christmas never made the production schedule until this year.
“White Christmas is a really wonderful old time story with a happy ending but it really doesn’t get produced very much because it’s moderately seasonal,” said New Richmond music director Doug Heflin, who is directing the show with the assistance of his wife, Lisa. “But because we have our musical a week before Thanksgiving, it kind of gives us a connection.”
Besides it’s an Irving Berlin musical.
“I’m a big Irving Berlin fan,” admitted Heflin.
The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 in the NRHS theater.
The White Christmas storyline has two World War II veterans and song-and-dance act following two beautiful sisters to a Vermont lodge where they will be performing in a Christmas show. Once there they find their former Army commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner and a series of romantic mix-ups result where they try to help the general.
“The movie version of White Christmas is a bit different from what we will do on stage,” said Heflin, who is directing a cast and crew of 75. “You can tell they changed the movie version around to be a vehicle for the great stars.”
The two main characters Bob and Phil (played in the movie by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) are being played by Will Heflin and Nick Gilman. The sisters (Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney in the movie version) are played by Sammi Gregory and Sarah Molitor.
“Those four characters are the driving force in the movie,” noted Heflin, “but in the stage version we are doing we also have very important parts being played by Ashleigh Beard who playing Martha Watson the inn keeper, Michael Steelman who is General Waverly and Sarah Denneman who is playing Susan Wavely, the granddaughter of Waverly. In our stage version both Martha and Susan have solos.”
The New Richmond production also will include some of the dance routines from the Broadway and movie versions with the students doing their own choreography.
“Without a dance studio and a dance choreographer here, the students divvy up and do all their own choreography,” said Heflin. “We have a couple solo dances (Mary Grace Williams and Jessica Nazareth) and I think it looks great.”
Heflin said fans should not confuse White Christmas with Holiday Inn, another Irving Berlin musical from which the song White Christmas originated.
“White Christmas the musical only has a couple of Christmas scenes – the very two or three minutes and then the closing scene,” said Heflin.
“It’s going to be neat. It’s a good sit-back, feel-good about yourself and watch a neat show.”