All About Richland

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Ushers In Holiday Season At The Renaissance Theatre

3 Nov , 2021  

Special to 1812Blockhouse

One of the most beloved holiday productions of all time comes to the Renaissance Theatre this November, just in time to make your Christmas dreams come true. Based on the 1954 film, White Christmas tells the story of a successful song-and-dance team who become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.

When composer Irving Berlin wrote the song White Christmas in the late 1930s, it was intended for an upcoming musical revue. But when no one showed much interest in the song, Berlin tucked it away in a trunk and forgot about it. A few years later, when the song was featured in the film Holiday Inn, the publicity department at Twentieth Century Fox placed their bets that the big song hit would be the now forgotten, Be Careful It’s My Heart. 

However, with World War II raging around them, Americans embraced instead  White Christmas – with a message that offers its listeners a gentle mix of melancholy and hope, with its simple theme of home, hearth, and family. It would go on to win an Academy Award, topped the charts and became the best-selling song of all time. In the 1950s, when Berlin pitched the idea of writing a film based on the song, the studios were quick to snatch up the idea, reuniting Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. 

When Astaire dropped out, Donald O’Conner was briefly cast in the role of Phil Davis, before finally being replaced by Danny Kaye. Dancer Vera Ellen, who’d just scored a hit in On The Town, was cast as Judy Haynes, while singer Rosemary Clooney made her film debut in the role of Betty Haynes. The film went on to be the biggest hit of 1954 and featured some of Irving Berlin’s greatest hits. Fast forward fifty years and the film was adapted for the stage. Featuring many of the songs from the movie, it also included some of Berlin’s other big hits, including Blue Skies, How Deep is the Ocean, Let Yourself Go, Let Me Sing and I’m Happy and I’ve Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas comes home to the Renaissance Theatre, opening Friday, November 12th at 8:00 PM. With a cast of talented local favorites and guest artists, it’s the perfect way to welcome in the holiday season and features some of Irving Berlin’s greatest songs, including Count Your Blessings, I Love a Piano, The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing, Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me, What Do You Do With a General, as well as the beloved title song White Christmas.

Featured cast includes Michigan native John Broda as Bob Wallace, Ren veteran Ryan Shreve as Phil Davis, Akron’s Samantha Woodill as Judy Davis, and former Miss Ohio, Caroline Grace Williams as Betty Davis.

Also featured are Mansfield’s beloved Condrea Webber as Martha, Scott Smith as General Waverly, Niko Carter as Ralph Sheldrake, Stephanie Hayslip as Tessie, George Swarn as Mike and Alyssa Racer and Mount Vernon’s Jillian Snow alternating in the role of Susan Waverly.

Guest artist and former Miss Virginia, Dot Kelly, co-choreographs with Williams and is featured in the role of Rita. The White Christmas ensemble includes Taylor Beasley, Rebecca Boesch, Stuart Corson, Elijah Gates, Christopher Hartman, Cassandra Kurek, Jamie Mayfield, Jackalyn Metz, Grayden Pierce, Zakari Ramos, Daniel Reaume, Payne Schwartz, Lexi Vega, Tonne Webber, Torre Webber, and Tiara Wightman.

The creative team for White Christmas includes director Michael Thomas, musical director Kelly Knowlton, costume designer Linda Turske, technical director and sound designer Aaron Nicolas, set designer Jason Kaufman, wig designer Maddie Penwell, assistant director/technical director Nik Demers and production manager Abram Swanger. Technical assistance is provided by Brien Carpenter, Bobby Rhea and Spencer Beer.

Due to overwhelming popularity, 2 additional shows have been added for a total of 6 performances of White Christmas the musical. Don’t miss this musical and magical holiday classic as Irving Berlin’s White Christmas will be presented November 12-14 & Nov. 19-21.

For tickets to the Irving Berlin’s White Christmas the Musical, visit  or call the box office at 419-522-2726 ext. 200.

Source, Photo: Renaissance Performing Arts Association

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