This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the live performance of White Christmas at the Flynn, the local theater in Burlington. For those of you unfamiliar with my tastes, I am a huge fan of old movies, specifically those produced in the 1940s and 1950s. The performance I went to see was the theatre adaptation of the movie White Christmas, which I watch at least twice a year. Needless to say, my attendance of this show was never in question.
The show was performed by the Lyric Theatre Company, which produces shows regularly and shows them at the Flynn. I am, unfortunately but unashamedly, a bit of a theater snob, having grown up with Broadway. Therefore, I was not sure what I would be getting out of a theatrical production in Vermont; I was very pleasantly surprised. Although I do not believe their shows would ever reach the scale of Broadway (if only due to the smaller stage size), they are very good, for people who view theatre as a past-time rather than a career.
I could never say the live show was better than the movie; the likes of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen simply cannot be found in today's world of show-business. For that reason alone, in my opinion no show could ever be par with the film, or surpass it. Furthermore, since I have seen the movie so many times, any digressions from the film's plot and score seemed out of place to me, even if they transitioned well in the play itself.
That being said, there were several elements of the performance that I especially enjoyed, outside of my usual love for the score of White Christmas. In this version, the character of Martha Watson (who is the receptionist/concierge/general manager of the inn in the film) has a much larger part that is more firmly rooted in comedy and music. I thought that Kim Anderson, who had that role, did very well, taking on what was almost a Carol Burnett persona. If you do not know who Carol Burnett is, look her up. She's hilarious. Furthermore, out of all the leads, Sarah Madeleine Connor, who plays Betty Haynes, did a phenomenal job of filling the unfillable (Is that a word? If not, now it is.) shoes of Rosemary Clooney. Singing in that "Old Hollywood" style is very difficult (not that I am a professional singer with any experience in that regard) and I admire her for it.
I was also incredibly amused by the jokes about Vermont (which is the setting of the musical) that appeared in the show. I do not know if they actually existed in the script, or were added due to the location of the showings. They are not in the film, but I thoroughly enjoyed them - and the reactions of the primarily Vermont-native audience. There was also the edition of the character Ezekiel Foster, whose sole purpose seemed to be to portray a "Vermonter." I found him extremely entertaining.
The childish part of me was also thrilled that they had snow machines at work at the end of the show (hence the title of this post).
Overall, my venture into the audience of a Vermont theater was entirely successful and will definitely be repeated. In addition to the shows put on by the Lyric Theatre Company, Broadway tours also make their way up here. The Flynn has a student rate, and there is also a way to get $10 tickets through Saint Mike's that I will be exploring. If you get the chance, check out the Flynn!