“White Christmas” is probably one of the creakiest movie musicals ever made.
The show’s flaws, primarily revolving around the plot, are just as readily apparent in the Broadway musical stage adaptation, renamed “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” – but, thank heavens, they’re overshadowed by its phenomenal Berlin score.
That playlist includes “Happy Holiday,” “How Deep Is the Ocean,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” and, of course, the title song, written in 1942 and the world’s best-selling single.
At Carpenter Center, Musical Theatre West’s staging hits the bull’s eye by doing all the 2000 show (on Broadway in 2008) requires to conceal the shortcomings of David Ives and Paul Blake’s book, which closely follows Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank’s 1954 screenplay.
Director Todd Nielsen has a socko cast, making it hard to imagine any “White Christmas” staging being able to top these principals, supporting players and ensemble.
Next are musical director Dennis Castellano’s adroit – can we say masterful? – handling of the score and Keenon Hooks’ adaptation and restaging of Lisa Hopkins’ original choreography.
Adding the finishing touches are Debbie Roberts’ sparkling, often gorgeous period costumes, Jean-Yves Tessier’s lighting and Kevin Clowes’ technical direction.
Having Castellano and the band visible throughout, garbed and presented in spiffy white suits à la period nightclub orchestras, is a fine concept and creates visual elegance. The sticking point is that this crisp stylishness is sometimes at odds with the foreground action of the story – as when we move into the Vermont barn being…