What could be finer than a choice selection of Irving Berlin tunes neatly arranged for theatrical presentation? Writer-musician Scott Harlan, in concert with Michael Vodde and Paul Hough, has extracted more than 50 songs, some in entirety, some just snippets, from the Berlin catalog of more than 1,000 songs, to knit together a fast-paced, vocally voluminous and extensively choreographed production. The many tunes include some standout solos, such as Karen Errington with "Hostess With the Mostess," Heidi Gutnecht with "Suppertime," Alison Snegas with "You'd Be Surprised," Brian Patrick Miller with the time-honored "Always," and James Andrew Wright with "Let's Face the Music and Dance." The show takes its holiday title from a parody song set to "Puttin' on the Ritz." Songs are warbled in duos, trios, quartets and chorales, and even the orchestra leader/pianist chimes in on some vocals.

What could be finer than a choice selection of Irving Berlin tunes neatly arranged for theatrical presentation? Writer-musician Scott Harlan, in concert with Michael Vodde and Paul Hough, has extracted more than 50 songs, some in entirety, some just snippets, from the Berlin catalog of more than 1,000 songs, to knit together a fast-paced, vocally voluminous and extensively choreographed production.

The many tunes include some standout solos, such as Karen Errington with “Hostess With the Mostess,” Heidi Gutnecht with “Suppertime,” Alison Snegas with “You’d Be Surprised,” Brian Patrick Miller with the time-honored “Always,” and James Andrew Wright with “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” The show takes its holiday title from a parody song set to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Songs are warbled in duos, trios, quartets and chorales, and even the orchestra leader/pianist chimes in on some vocals.

The multilevel set by R. Keith Brumley is of contemporary design, adding depth to the apron stage.

While the show is enjoyable as played, “Christmas at the Ritz” could stand as much as 30 minutes worth of trimming.

Christmas at the Ritz

Opened Oct. 31, 1997, at American Heartland Theater. 445 seats; $20 top.

Production

KANSAS CITY An American Heartland Theater presentation of a revue in two acts featuring the music of Irving Berlin, written by Scott Harlan, Michael Vodde and Paul Hough. Directed and choreographed by Vodde. Musical direction, vocal arrangements, Harlan; set, R. Keith Brumley.

Creative

Costumes, Brad Shaw; lighting, Randy B. Winder; orchestration, Eric George; sound, Steve Thomey; stage manager, William J. Christie. Reviewed Nov. 5; Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

Cast

Cast: Karen Errington, Heidi Gutnecht, Alison Snegas, James Andrew Wright, Brian Patrick Miller.
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