I was nearly knocked-out by the one-two punch of Christmas cheer this past weekend, thanks to openings of Barksdale’s “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” and Swift Creek Mill’s “The Winter Wonderettes.” The links above will take you to the two T-D reviews, both productions fairly well received by Ms. Haubenstock.
As I’ve been summing up my thoughts about each, I really wish I could write a combo review since the two productions have such interesting similarities and contrasts. Both have scads of familiar songs but one has a cast of dozens (or so it seems) versus the other’s cast of 4. Both are set in the mid-20th century (“WW” is supposed to be set in 1968 but is full of sentiments from a decade earlier) but one production is full of glitz, glamour and technical dazzle while the other garner’s much of its appeal from its low-tech, homespun charm. Both productions make the most of the strengths in the shows’ scripts and both are also somewhat hampered by their books’ weaknesses.
It’ll probably be 2 weeks before my reviews show up in print so I’ll give a little preview by saying, while I thought each production had its issues (mostly script related), I ended up thoroughly entertained by them both. To sum up: If you want to be dazzled and enchanted and leave the theater with stars in your eyes, “White Christmas” fits the bill. If you want to be charmed and amused and leave the theater with warmth in your heart, check out “Winter Wonderettes.” But really, for the full range of holiday-oriented emotions and entertainment, I’d suggest seeing them both.