The curtain opens to a stage filled with World War II soldiers. They watch as two of their own sing and dance on a makeshift stage, wearing red Santa hats and jingle bells. These men are Captain Bob Wallace and PFC Phil Davis, who are presenting a Christmas program designed to lift the morale of their fellow soldiers. But the party is interrupted after just a few minutes because, as their superior officer says, “we are at war.” So opens Lee’s Summit High School’s production of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”.
Based on the film of the same title, “White Christmas” is about the two World War II veterans, who develop a successful song-and-dance show after the war ends. They meet the sister act of Betty and Judy Haynes, who are on their way to Vermont. Judy and Phil hatch a plan, and all four performers end up at an inn, which happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander, General Waverly.
Bob Wallace, played by Daniel Verschelden, and his partner Phil Davis, played by Andrew Wright, set the stage for a beautiful show. They sing several cheery duets which are lots of fun watch. Verschelden sings with a near flawless vibrato and brings the 1950’s era to life. The sister act of Betty and Judy Haynes, played by Adee Dancy and Kirsten Myers respectively, enhance the performance with voices that blend perfectly to create sharp harmonies which are also typical of the 1950s. Together, these four actors have beautiful chemistry on stage, as the interactions between them seem effortless and realistic.
Trevor Todd, who plays General Waverly, marches across the stage with an army man’s discipline and authority. He commands attention and yells as if it is natural to him. Todd portrays his character in a believable manner that is enjoyable and exciting to watch. Todd’s companion on stage is Abby Gast, who plays Martha Watson. She holds herself high and speaks with an accent that is maintained even as she sings.
“I Love A Piano” is a tap number that stands out as a showy act opener. The song starts with just Wright and Myers tapping along a few giant piano keys, then the whole ensemble appears on stage where the tapping of heels and toes is upbeat and thrilling. The dancers execute this number almost perfectly, leaving grins, dropped jaws and wide eyes across the audience.
The lighting, organized by Andrew Wright, is flawlessly executed and beautifully designed. The spotlights follow the actors without hesitation or confusion. When it finally snows in Vermont, doors of the barn are opened to reveal actual white flakes floating down from above. After the curtain call, the performers sing one more song, while being dusted with snow that is lit from behind with the blues and purples of night time. The audience also receives a dusting of snow as they applaud the actors.
Throughout the show, there are just a couple of lighting problems, but they are practically unnoticeable and quickly remedied. The few, minor sound issues do nothing to detract from the songs which are gorgeous and fun to listen to.
Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is a beautiful show performed by Lee’s Summit High School, leaving behind excitement for the holidays and hopes for a white Christmas.
Payton Haen is a student of Blue Springs South High School