Christmas may not quite be in the air just yet, but it’s definitely on regional entertainment stages.
That includes the Fallon House Theatre in Columbia where Sierra Repertory kicks off its holiday offerings with “White Christmas,” a past crowd-pleaser for the company, to be staged Friday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 17.
It’s just one of the festive offerings popping up across the Modesto and the Mother Lode regions in November, helping audiences get a jump on their yuletide spirit.
Adapted from 17 Irving Berlin-penned songs, the musical “White Christmas” tells the story of World War II veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two friends who launched a successful song-and-dance act after the war.
With romance in mind, the two follow singing sisters Judy and Betty Haynes to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge – a lodge that happens to be owned by the vets’ former army commander.
Through the tried-and-true romantic storytelling tool of misinterpreted information and comedy of errors, a budding romance collapses.
“Of course, all is put right and the characters are certain to have a happy ending,” director Jerry Lee said in a press release from SRT.
The stage production – which Sierra Rep also staged in in 2007 and 2010 – is based on the beloved 1954 film that starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The musical features 17 Irving Berlin songs including “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the title number that’s become a Crosby Christmas classic.
“I think of this show as being a contemporary fairy tale,” Lee said. “They live in a world where, on a whim, they can pull a group of Broadway singer-dancers to Vermont to put on a major production in a matter of five days.”
Lee, who previously directed “Man of La Mancha” and “The Drowsy Chaperone” for Sierra Repertory, said he looks forward to bringing such a well-known tale to the stage. “Telling and retelling well-loved stories is one of my favorite pastimes. I love the challenge of finding ways to freshen up what we know and explore a story through contemporary eyes.”
The cast includes SRT newcomers Jordan Cyphert and Phil Davis as Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, respectively, and Hannah Zilber and Fiona McIntyre as sisters Betty and Judy.
“They say that when you’re putting on a musical, half the battle is won by having a good cast. I took my time casting this show and, boy, am I glad I did,” Lee said.
Among others in the cast are Sierra Rep veterans Ty Smith, Jan Leigh, Paul Henry and Zack Hasbany. The production is choreographed by Zoe Swenson-Graham with music direction by Mark Siever.
“White Christmas” kicks off the holiday season on regional stages. Of course there will be plenty of shows once December rolls around, as well, but here’s a look at a few of the other yuletide-tinged productions planned just in November:
▪ “Home for the Holidays” – Nov. 21-Dec. 22. Annual art show at the Mistlin Gallery, Modesto. ccaagallery.org
▪ “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – Nov. 24. Live stage production at the Gallo Center for the Arts, Modesto. www.galloarts.org
▪ “A Christmas Carol” – Nov. 24-26. Modesto Performing Arts presents its stage production at the Gallo Center. www.galloarts.org
▪ The Texas Tenors Christmas show – Nov. 25. Trio performs holiday music at the Gallo Center. www.galloarts.org
▪ Under the Streetlamp’s Hip to the Holidays – Nov. 26. Music group brings its Christmas show to the Gallo Center. www.galloarts.org
▪ “Elf the Musical” – Nov. 28. National touring production of the Broadway musical, performed at Gallo Center for the Arts. www.galloarts.org
WHEN: Nov. 3-Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
WHERE: Fallon House Theatre, 11175 Washington St., Columbia