White Christmas comes early this year, a review of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre's winter season show
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White Christmas comes early this year

Fort Wayne Civic Theatre's winter season show

Still checking the radar for snow? Check here. (Photograph by Hannah Stumpf)

Still checking the radar for snow? Check here. (Photograph by Hannah Stumpf)

By Hannah Stumpf | Echo

On Nov. 4, the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre (FWCT) opened its running of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” This is an exciting season for the theater. Not only is this the 90th anniversary season, but patrons are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for the Community Harvest food bank benefit.

The FWCT is possible through a special partnership with Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals. This production features live orchestral performances conducted by Larry Blank.

The production also includes several Anthony award winning actors and actresses such as Michael Nelaborige (Bob Wallace), Ken Low (General Henry Waverly) and Susan Domer (Martha Watson). Darby Bixler (Judy Haynes) was also part of the first production FWCT hosted of “White Christmas” eight years ago.

Tickets are $8 with showtimes Nov 17, 18 and 19th at 7 p.m. (Photograph by Hannah Stumpf)

Tickets are $8 with showtimes Nov 17, 18 and 19th at 7 p.m. (Photograph by Hannah Stumpf)

Many of these actors have worked together before, as evidenced by the chemistry between Nelaborige, Low and Emily Arata Grillo (Betty Haynes). In fact, they all collaborated in the FWCT’s longest running show, “Beauty and the Beast.”

Sophomore Vic Neideffer was at opening night with several other Taylor students.

“I think the relationships between the characters worked well,” Neideffer said. “I think maybe Bob (Nelaborige) could’ve had a little more character development like he does in the movie. But, overall, I think the actors and actresses did very well.”

Patrons can expect comedic breaks from actors Bridget E. Bogdon (Rita, Ensemble/Dancer) and Audra Rittenhouse (Rhonda, Ensemble/Dancer.). Of course, who can forget the lovable character of Ezekiel Foster, played by Paul R. Faulkner?

In terms of music, patrons will recognize Christmas classics such as “Happy Holiday,” “I’ve got Love to Keep Me Warm” and of course, “White Christmas.”

Choreographically speaking, most numbers are very simple, with the exception of “I Love a Piano” being a tap dance.

But how does this production compare to the original, beloved film? Director Becky Niccum states in her director’s notes many of the songs were originally intended for other plays. The lyrics were reworked and made it into the film. Some include the lyrics to “Snow,”which was included in the FWCT’s production. Surprisingly, the title song was not originally intended for this film or play at all.

“The holiday classic song ‘White Christmas’ actually debuted in the movie Irving Berlin’s ‘Holiday Inn’ in 1942,” Niccum said.

“I love ‘White Christmas’, and so I was really excited going into it.” Neideffer said. I hadn’t seen it in any sort of show form before other than the film, so I just based most of my assumptions of what it was gonna be like from the film. And yeah, I think it matched up pretty well . . .like with the train scene, it’s a little bit different than in the movie . . . I think even all the little differences they had were needed for the setting.”

If still unsure about this production, there is a small twist involving audience participation during the opening and final numbers. Don’t forget to bring a nonperishable food item for the Community Harvest food bank benefit, as well. It will be sure to get theater-goers into the Christmas spirit.

Showtimes Nov 17, 18 and 19th 7 p.m. – $17.

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