“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the Orpheum Theatre is a yawn fest

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Tuesday evening at the Orpheum theatre I saw Irving Berlin’s aptly named “White Christmas” expecting something drenched in cheese but entertaining all the same. I was right about the former, but was sadly disappointed in the latter. The show was mediocre at best and boring at worst. The story is of two World War Two veterans putting on a show in a hotel in 1954, told classic broadway-style with jazz hands and giant feather fans. There was nothing wrong with it, in terms of talent of the cast or the production design, but the problem lay in the show’s story and songs. The storyline was so tedious that I found myself yawning almost the whole way through, predictable enough to know the ending from the first act. Most of the songs had me nodding off in my seat.

The production itself was immaculate. The sets were clean and the costumes were nice to look at. Each lead actor could sing and act, with the exception of James Clow, one of the leads, who forgot a line. It was clear that the ensemble was dedicated, and they tried their best to make the storyline interesting. However, none of the actors was a standout and I sometimes found myself confused as to which character was who. The only character that really got my attention was the little girl, played by Elizabeth Crawford, whose adorable singing and dancing was the only break in the monotony of the cast.

Of the eighteen scenes in the show, there were a few showstoppers that were worthy of attention. These numbers featured fun tap dancing to truly wow the audience. They came one after the other so that when they were finished you felt like you’d been slapped in the face by the enormity of what you just saw. Those numbers were loud, bright, fast and fun. But they only made up a fraction of the show. The rest of the songs were slow in a way that made my mind wander to other things rather than sigh at the softness of it.

To be fair, perhaps I just saw this show at the wrong time. The day I saw “White Christmas” was the day of the Ferguson riots following the announcement that Darren Wilson would not be indicted. The entire day was a whirlwind of excitement, and I walked into the Orpheum that evening with my mind not prepared for theatre. In the wake of the things going on outside the Orpheum, “White Christmas”‘ cheeriness seemed hollow to me. If I had seen the show another time, I might have appreciated it more. But unfortunately I didn’t, and the show remained, in my mind, a bore.