LEHI — It is always a risky endeavor when feature films are turned into Broadway musicals. This is especially true when it is a classic beloved holiday film. People have grown up watching these films each year, and they have a definite idea of what they should be like. Fortunately, the adaptation of the classic film White Christmas is very well done and even improves upon the movie. Regalo Theater Company has mounted this lovely musical with sparkle and pizazz in Lehi. Fans of old-fashioned musicals will love this dazzling holiday show.
With this adaptation, book writers David Ives and Paul Blake take the best parts of the film and eliminate portions that are not culturally sensitive for a modern audiences (such as the minstrel number). They also get rid of annoying elements like Phil and Judy lying about their engagement to try and trick Bob and Betty. However, they left over 20 Irving Berlin songs, including fan favorites like “Sisters,” “Snow,” “The Best Things Happen When You’re Dancing,” and “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep).” There are also some fun songs added to the show, like “Love and the Weather,” “Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun,” and “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy.”
Directors Michael and Colleen Carrasco bring the sequences to life at the Regalo. Every element of the show comes together with very few hitches. Michael Carrasco not only co-directs the play, but does impressive work with the set design that looked very professional, with a great attention to detail. For example, in the “Snow” number the actors are on a train set that looked phenomenal on its own, but the set design has the extra detail of having screens in the windows with video playing of the view from the train speeding by. The scene could have had a flat background and nobody would have noticed, but I commend Regalo for doing the added work to make the production so immersive.
The costumes for White Christmas are also very impressive. Costume designers Brooke Holahan and Colleen Carrasco have not only recreated iconic looks from the film (such as the “Sisters” dresses and fans and the red holiday outfits for the finale), but they have made beautiful outfits that capture each scene. I was particularly blown away by the dresses they made for the “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me/Dow Deep is the Ocean?” song when Betty sings in a nightclub. She wears a beautiful black dress with a black flower on the shoulder, and all the other attendees at the club are wearing gorgeous formal dresses. Each one of those dresses is hours of work for a small background role in one scene. And it was wonderful to look at.
Let’s talk about the cast. Everyone in White Christmas is fantastic, but Reagan Fausett stands out most as Betty. Her voice has a beautiful timbre to it, whether she is singing the jazzy numbers at the club, or the more classical songs with Bob (played by Jared Saunders). Ben Wear is saucy and capable of the playing the comedic Phil Davis. Plus, Wear has excellent chemistry with Felicia Sandor as Judy Haynes.
The choreography by Jessica Adams is is another way this new version improves upon the film. The dancing is excellent and features ballroom, tap, and other kinds of dance. All the cast is capable of performing the complicated routines. (In the movie, the director had to work to hide Rosemary Clooney’s poor dancing, and she said she wished they could have dubbed her dancing like they did co-star Vera-Ellen’s singing.)
There are also some fun surprises in the show that I will not spoil for readers, but they really paid off. Steve Winters is great as General Waverly, and young Lucy White has a terrific belty voice as his granddaughter Susan Waverly. Miranda Mobbs rounds out the cast as the housekeeper Martha Watson who has a boisterous song with “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy.”
The only real critique I have of White Christmas at the Regalo is it is a long show, and they make it longer with a tribute to veterans. While this is very sweet, it did make the show not start until nearly 7:45. Perhaps, the tribute could be moved to intermission? There also were a few audio hiccups that the sound technicians could remedy. Beyond those two minor issues, I have can find no other things to criticize in this great production.
I really enjoyed this night of holiday theater. White Christmas is impressive by any standard, but with a ticket price of only $10 at the Regalo, the quality stands out even more.