Cast Size: Large (14+). Vocal Demands: Moderate. Good For: High School • College/University • Amateur/Community • Professional Theatre • Religious Organization.
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Academy AwardsJanuary 12, 1970 — Award for Best Original Song: 'White Christmas'
Vocal Range of Characters:
Written By: David Ives
Walter Bobbie, who so brilliantly first directed (I’d almost say who created) Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, gave a simple, crucial bit of direction to two of the show’s leads one day.
It was fall of 2004. We were rehearsing the show’s premiere production, slated to go up in San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. This was early days of rehearsal, in a New York hall that looked out over 42nd Street’s gaudy chaos toward Times Square. That morning, Brian d’Arcy James and Jeffry Denman were working on the scene where Bob and Phil, former army buddies who’ve become stars, decide to put on a show that will help their friend the General keep his Vermont inn going.
For some reason, the scene was going miserably. No matter how much Brian and Jeffry – wonderful performers both – went back and reattacked it, some necessary piece was missing. I wondered if I should simply rewrite the scene from scratch.
Then Walter stepped in for a word with the two actors.
He said to them, “I want to remind you of one thing. This is a pre-neurotic, pre-Sondheim musical we’re doing. The year is 1954. Bob and Phil are not interested in their feelings, or showing their feelings, or showing what sensitive men they are. They’re men of their time. They don’t want to be sensitive. They want to be decent. They want to help their old army buddy – the same way they’d help each other out of a jam, without thinking. Forget about Bob and Phil. The scene isn’t about them, it’s about the General. Now let’s try it again.”
You could palpably feel a sudden lightening of mood in the whole room, from the two actors and from everyone observing in the cast. It was the lightening that comes of revelation. And lo and behold when Brian and Jeffry launched back in, the scene was utterly changed. It was free. It was uncomplicated. It was joyous. And never again did a scene get stuck that way, because everyone in the room knew that Walter had gone to the heart of White Christmas. From that moment on, the show began to glow.
You see, despite its apparent innocence, White Christmas is a show that’s actually about something. Call it community. Call it the ties that bind. In the army, in show business, in running an inn together, in friendship, in sisterhood, in “the spirit of Christmas,” the characters of White Christmas realize their connections, and their responsibilities, to everyone around them. It’s why Betty feels so morally betrayed when she finds out (wrongly) that Bob is less than he seemed. It’s why generosity runs through the veins of these characters, who live in a world that is perhaps quite alien to us today: a world in which people are for others, not for themselves.
If I had any advice to give performers, directors, designers launching into this show it would be this: outward simplicity, and inner generosity. Outward simplicity means not hammering jokes in the contemporary sitcom smirking-mugging manner but letting laugh-lines land as they will, with all the modest ease of 1954. The humor has to come from character, not from knowingness. Inner generosity means making your every acting objective about the other person. Speaking and listening are more important than trying to be funny here because it’s humanity that’s on offer, not snappy lines.
In short, this show can’t be played as a musical of today. To work, it has to remain true both outwardly and inwardly to the era the movie it’s based on was written in. That’s one of the reasons people want to see White Christmas: because they want to inhabit that more innocent world of 1954 for a couple of hours. A world of uncomplicated friendships and simple, open feelings. It’s the world of everyone’s inner Christmas, where Scrooges are transformed and true love comes wrapped as a gift and snow falls when it’s supposed to.
Simplicity. Generosity. Decency. You can’t go wrong.
Written By: Walter Bobbie
At the first day of rehearsal for WHITE CHRISTMAS in October 2004, director Walter Bobbie (Tony winner for CHICAGO) marvelled: “Kevin and Jeffrey are producing WHITE CHRISTMAS in a way that big musicals don’t happen any more. They called me and said, ‘We’ve got a sensational score by Irving Berlin, and we’ve already booked a theater. Let’s put on a show!’ No workshop, no years of development. They weren’t producing a reading; they were actually producing a show! As scary as that prospect seems,” Bobbie concluded, “I found it liberating. And their commitment gave the entire creative team an extraordinary focus.”
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- Orchestration (23 Books)
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- 1 – REED I (Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone (Lead Flute))
- 1 – REED II (Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone (Lead Clarinet))
- 1 – REED III (Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone)
- 1 – REED IV (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone)
- 1 – Reed V (Bassoon, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone)
- 1 – Horn
- 1 – TRUMPET I
- 1 – TRUMPET II
- 1 – TRUMPET III
- 1 – TROMBONE I (Tenor Trombone)
- 1 – TROMBONE II (Tenor Trombone)
- 1 – TROMBONE III (Bass Trombone)
- 1 – DRUMS (Traps, Mark Tree, Triangle)
- 2 – PERCUSSION (see list below)
- 1 – KEYBOARD I (Piano, Synth) (see list below)
- 1 – KEYBOARD II (Synth) (see list below)
- 3 – VIOLINS (Divisi)
- 1 – CELLO (Divisi)
- 1 – BASS
- Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
- 20 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- 1 – Logo CD
- 2 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- 0 – Digital Logo
- WHITE CHRISTMAS - Libretti/Vocal Books 10 pack
- 10 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- WHITE CHRISTMAS - PRE-PRODUCTION PACKAGE
- 1 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
1 Young Girl
Large singing-dancing ensemble consisting of 'Jimmy's Back Room' Clubgoers, Train Passengers, Inn Guests, Chorus Kids, Patrons of the Regency Room
Bob Wallace - late 20's to mid 30's, a superb singer with a crooning style who moves well.
Phil Davis - late 20's to mid 30's, strong jazz and tap-dancing needed - a song-and-dance comic performer.
Betty Haynes - mid to late 20's, a female singer of quiet beauty and charm who must move well.
Judy Haynes - early 20's, strong jazz and tap-dancing needed - a major song-and-dance performer.
General Henry Waverly - late 50's to mid 60's, with the exception of one line, a non-singing role.
Martha Watson - late 40's to mid 60's, a winning, appealing character-comedienne
Susan Waverly - 9 years old, she must have an excellent belt voice and be able to move well.
Ralph Sheldrake - mid to late 30's
Rita - mid 20's to early 30's
Rhoda - mid 20's to early 30's
Ezekiel Foster - mid 40's to late 50's
Mike - mid 20's to late 30's
Mrs. Snoring Man
Ed Sullivan Announcer
Regency Room Announcer - offstage voice
Sheldrake's Secretary - offstage voice
'Jimmy's Back Room' Clubgoers
Patrons of the Regency Room
WHITE CHRISTMAS takes place in New York City and Vermont in 1954.
Somewhere on the Western Front of World War II
The Ed Sullivan Show
Backstage at the Ed Sullivan Show
Jimmy's Back Room
The Train Car
The Front Desk of the Columbia Inn in Vermont
The Barn Rehearsal Hall
The Front Porch of the Inn
Ralph Sheldrake's Office, New York
Onstage in the Barn Theater
Betty's Room at the Inn
The Regency Room, New York
KEYBOARD II (Synthesizer): Celesta, Strings, Winds & Strings, Pizzicato Strings, Arco Strings, Sustained Strings, Strings w/ Magic Bells, String Tremolo w/ shimmer, Harp, Synth Bells, Toy Piano, String Harmonics
REED II Note: Flute in Reed II double lines for Clarinet
REED III Note: Oboe and English Horn in Reed III double lined for Clarinet
REED V Note: Bassoon in Reed V double lined for Bass Clarinet
VIOLIN Note: 5 Players Suggested Minimum