This holiday season, Allen Contemporary Theatre (ACT) is doing more than just dreaming of a “White Christmas.” The iconic Christmas number will ring out through the theater when ACT’s production of the popular Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney-led musical comes to life on stage December 1 through December 17.
“Every Christmastime, my family had certain movies that we would watch like A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and White Christmas was always one of them and was always my favorite,” Allen Contemporary Theatre “White Christmas” Director Robyn Mead said.
Mead explained that she first saw the stage version of the film several years back, an experience she initially approached with a sense of trepidation given how much she enjoyed the source material.
“I was kind of afraid they would mess it up, and I would hate it, but it was great,” Mead said, describing how she later became inspired to direct “White Christmas” herself after working on a different musical and realizing she already had the dancers needed to pull off the holiday production.
Regardless of her feelings towards the movie, Mead said she looked for “people that just seem to embody the spirit of (White Christmas)” when it came time to cast the leads for the show.
“The thing I’ve said to the cast was, ‘If we wanted it to be the movie, we’d just roll down the big screen and show the movie,’” Mead said. “You have to have all the feel of it, but you can creatively make it your own, so I don’t think anybody will be disappointed that loves the movie.”
“You want to make sure that you are able to capture or recreate the memories that so many people have from their childhoods,” Allen Contemporary Theatre “White Christmas” Assistant Director Chris Berthelot said of performing the classic story.
The directors praised the show’s leads and supporting cast for their talents and ability to turn each of their characters into a memorable part of the production.
Mead credited the show’s Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, played by Juan Perez and Christian R. Black, respectively, with developing their own unique partnership akin to Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the movie.
“They each have a different personality, and each kind of complement the other,” Mead said, highlighting their “really funny chemistry.” “They have very different styles, and they managed to meld it into something that you (would think) was a natural team.”
Similarly, Berthelot praised Audrey Reidling and Erin Gayan for their comprehensive performances as Betty and Judy Haynes.
“The talent they bring, from acting skills to singing skills to their dancing skills, it’s a joy every night to watch them work,” Berthelot said.
Mead referenced the personal joy that she and Berthelot get each rehearsal in having the opportunity to see the actors working on their different song-and-dance numbers, adding that her favorite numbers change almost every night.
“For Chris and I, it’s great fun to sit out there and watch that happen,” Mead said of the singing and dancing during rehearsals. “Our choreographer, Becca Tischer, is amazing, and the dance numbers go from everything from tangos and waltzes to tap dancing. She really makes our dancers work hard.”
Mead noted that each member of the production team behind “White Christmas” has their own vision for the play, with her job as director being to meld each of those viewpoints into one cohesive and successful production. She said that each production team member shares something of a common vision of creating “that magical Christmas feel” in their work and delivering it to audiences.
“If we achieve that, then I think audiences are going to love it,” Mead said.
The Allen Contemporary Theatre production of “White Christmas” opens on December 1 and runs through December 17. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit https://allencontemporarytheatre.net/.
Allen Contemporary Theatre is an official advertiser with the Collin-Denton Spotlighter. Advertising does not guarantee coverage, nor does it affect the content of any coverage on the Spotlighter. This interview has been edited for clarity.