Connecticut Theater Review: Movie Musical ‘Holiday Inn’

Holiday Inn review Goodspeed Universal

The Connecticut farmstead setting in “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” isn’t the only thing that receives a makeover in this charmer of a tuner preeming at Goodspeed Musicals’ Opera House (and produced in association with Universal Stage Prods.). The 1942 movie musical that starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire gets an impressive and stylish re-do, too. Far superior — and more marketable — than the single-holiday-themed stage version of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” this “Holiday Inn” is better conceived and crafted, although a bit of retooling is required for the show to step up from “pleasant” to “must-see.”

Many of the show’s elements — Denis Jones’ witty choreography, Alejo Vietti’s fab costumes, the clever script by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge and playful and measured helming by Greenberg — recall that gold standard of re-purposed shows, “Crazy for You.”

The show couldn’t be more jam-packed with song standards, supplementing the film’s “Easter Parade,” “Happy Holidays” and “White Christmas” with a wide scoop from the Berlin songbook, adding “Shakin’ the Blues Away,” “Heat Wave,” “What’ll I Do,” “Blue Skies” and a few lesser-known gems. But it takes more than music to make an audience care, and this creative team re-calibrates this tasty trifle wisely and well.

Reset in sunnier days of the post-war era, the story centers on the showbiz split of singer Jim (Tally Sessions) and dancer Ted (Noah Racey), with Jim seeking a simpler life running a New England inn. For Ted, showbiz is the only biz. But a return from the old pal — with a tempting lure of fame and fortune — jeapardizes Jim’s romance with local teacher Linda (Patti Murin).

Offering old-school laugh support is a crew that Capra and Sturges would be proud to enlist: Susan Mosher as the inn’s wisecracking handywoman, Danny Rutigliano as a sparkplug of an agent, Hayley Podschun as Ted’s former dance partner and Noah Marlowe as the very funny, nonplussed local kid.

The script by Greenberg and theater newbie Hodge (whose many TV projects include the upcoming “Wayward Pines” for Fox) grounds the work around the theme of the authenticity of “real” country life versus the artificiality of showbiz — but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously either.  (“Connecticut? You’ll end up wearing plaid and repressing your feelings,” says Ted on hearing Jim’s decision to ankle the biz.)

Racey has a fine time with his character’s ego-driven obliviousness, and his dancing is terrific. Sessions sings beautifully, but sometimes his sad-sack moments tend to lessen this leading-man role, while Murin brings sex, intelligence and humor to a part that was forgettable in the film — and stellar here.

Still needed: A few more killer moments to join such crowd-pleasers as the jump rope number, the beguiling “You’re Easy to Dance With,” or the very funny Hollywood scene with its accompanying film clip. With a complete finish to this fixer-upper, “Holiday Inn” has the potential for full-calendar bookings.

Connecticut Theater Review: Movie Musical 'Holiday Inn'

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, Conn.; 398 seats; $77.50 top. Opened, reviewed Oct. 15, 2014. Running time: 2 HOURS, 25 MIN.

Production

A Goodspeed Musicals presentation of a musical in two acts, based on the film from Universal Pictures and produced in association with Universal Stage Productions, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge.

Creative

Directed by Gordon Greenberg. Choreography by Denis Jones. Sets, Anna Louizos; costumes, Alejo Vietti; lighting, Jeff Croiter; sound, Jay Hilton; music direction, Michael O’Flaherty, orchestrations, Dan DeLange; production stage manager, Bradley G. Spachman.

Cast

Noah Racey, Tally Sessions, Hayley Podschun, Danny Rutigliano, Patti Murin, Noah Marlowe, Susan Mosher, Alissa Alter, Abby Church, Darien Crago, Caley Crawford, Sarah Fagan, Jeremiah Ginn, Juliane Godfrey, Laura Harrison, Bryan Thomas Hunt, Darrell T. Joe, Charles MacEachern, Karl Skyler Urban, Amy Van Norstrand, John T. Wolfe.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 3

Leave a Reply

3 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. PETER JAY says:

    Where and what is the Goodspeed Musical Opera House?

  2. Goodbyenoway says:

    Do you guys do any research? You’re Easy to Dance With is not “added.” It was in the original film.

    • CMarks says:

      It doesn’t say “You’re Easy To Dance With” was added. It said the show needed more killer moments like that number. Do you even understand what you read before you inaccurately comment on it?

More Legit News from Variety

Loading