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.