Irving Berlin's White Christmas

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Irving Berlin may have been the best songwriter of the 20th century; he was certainly the best song publisher. Running his own company and promoting his own copyrights, Berlin was an expert at exploitation, finding new ways to sell old songs. One of his best ideas was to come up with, package, and sell to a studio a new movie musical that would feature both newly written material and some of his evergreens. Examples include Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) and Blue Skies (1946), but Berlin really worked his recycling magic to perfection in 1954, when he managed to get into movie theaters both White Christmas and There's No Business Like Show Business within months of ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Irving Berlin may have been the best songwriter of the 20th century; he was certainly the best song publisher. Running his own company and promoting his own copyrights, Berlin was an expert at exploitation, finding new ways to sell old songs. One of his best ideas was to come up with, package, and sell to a studio a new movie musical that would feature both newly written material and some of his evergreens. Examples include Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) and Blue Skies (1946), but Berlin really worked his recycling magic to perfection in 1954, when he managed to get into movie theaters both White Christmas and There's No Business Like Show Business within months of each other, the former in October, the latter in December. White Christmas was a sort of rough sequel to an earlier Berlin film that had employed all-new songs, Holiday Inn (1942). In that picture, Bing Crosby had played a song-and-dance man who runs a New England hotel open only on holidays; Fred Astaire was his sometime partner and rival in romantic matters. Of course, the major hit from the film was "White Christmas." Originally, White Christmas the movie was intended to re-pair Crosby and Astaire as a couple of song-and-dance men who were also World War II veterans in a plot that found them rescuing the fortunes of a New England hotel run by their old general while also wooing two sisters who had their own musical act (an act strongly reminiscent of the disbanded Clooney Sisters, with still-active Rosemary Clooney playing one sister and Vera-Ellen the other). By the time of production, Astaire had been replaced by Donald O'Connor, who had been replaced by Danny Kaye. The result was an enormous hit: White Christmas was by far the highest grossing movie released in 1954, and a Decca Records album featuring Crosby, Kaye, and Peggy Lee (standing in for Clooney, who was exclusively contracted to Columbia Records) hit number two in the charts, with the new songs "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me," and "Sisters" gaining the greatest renown among the new Berlin compositions in a score filled out with such oldies-but-goodies as "Blue Skies," "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," and, inevitably, "White Christmas." Now, fast-forward 46 years. Inspired by Paramount Pictures, owner of the movie, and the Irving Berlin Music Company, owner of the music, the St. Louis Municipal Opera, in the summer of 2000, produced a stage adaptation of White Christmas. The production was not so significant in itself as in the interest it awoke in a Broadway producer, who brought in a creative team led by director Walter Bobbie to revamp it entirely. The idea was not to take the show to Broadway, it was to create a show that could play in cities around the country during the holiday season. And so it did. The new White Christmas (or, as the producer chose to call it, Irving Berlin's White Christmas: The Musical) opened at the Curran Theater in San Francisco in November 2004. It played in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston in 2005. In 2006, it was scheduled to run in Detroit and St. Paul. Although technically it must be considered a studio cast recording, since it is not based on any individual production, this album features all four of the original lead performers from the 2004 San Francisco production, each of them a Broadway veteran: Brian d'Arcy James (Tony Award-nominated for The Sweet Smell of Success) as Bob Wallace, the Crosby role; Jeffry Denman as Phil Davis, the Kaye role; Anastasia Barzee as Betty Haynes, the Clooney role; and Meredith Patterson as Judy Haynes, the Vera-Ellen role. Karen Morrow, in the secondary part of Martha Watson, has a Broadway career dating back to 1964 and was in the St. Louis and Boston productions. As might be expected for a score that was an anthology to begin with, the song selection has been altered from the film, with a number of minor songs ("I'd Rather See a Minstrel Show," "Choreography," "Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army") jettisoned, and a batch of other Berlin hits ("Let Yourself Go," "I Love a Piano," "How Deep Is the Ocean," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm") interpolated, along with some lesser known tunes from the Berlin catalog ("Love and the Weather," "Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun"). That punches up the album considerably, but it adds to the sense that, as a strictly aural experience, White Christmas isn't much more than a Berlin hits collection sung by some talented singers. A few of the songs, such as "Sisters" and "What Can You Do with a General?," tangentially touch upon the plot, but most are just good songs. They are given fresh arrangements, and they are performed well. (It's notable that the principals make no attempt to sound like the movie stars; James' tenor is nothing like Crosby's baritone, for example.) But as an album, White Christmas never succeeds in being anything more than what it was no doubt intended to be, a musical souvenir that may interest audience members attending one of the many productions of the show.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/17/2006
  • Label: Ghostlight
  • UPC: 791558122527
  • Catalog Number: 81225
  • Sales rank: 4,287

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Overture - The Orchestra
  2. 2 Happy Holidays Let Yourself Go - Jeffry Denman
  3. 3 Love and the Weather - Jeffry Denman
  4. 4 Sisters - Anastasia Barzee
  5. 5 The Best Things Happen - Meredith Patterson
  6. 6 When You're Dancing - Cliff Bemis
  7. 7 Snow - Cliff Bemis
  8. 8 What Can You Do With a General? - Karen Morrow
  9. 9 Let Me Sing and I'm Happy - Karen Morrow
  10. 10 Count Your Blessings - Anastasia Barzee
  11. 11 Blue Skies - Brian d'Arcy James
  12. 12 I Love a Piano - Meredith Patterson
  13. 13 Falling Out of Love - Anastasia Barzee
  14. 14 Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me/ How Deep Is the Ocean?
  15. 15 The Old Man
  16. 16 White Christmas - Brian d'Arcy James
  17. 17 I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Brian d'Arcy James
  18. 18 I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (2:30)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Irving Berlin Primary Artist
Derek Watkins Trumpet
Wendy James Vocals, Ensemble
John Barclay Trumpet
Kelli Barclay Vocals, Tap Dance
Dave Bishop Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Robin Campbell Vocals, Ensemble
Simon Gardner Trumpet
Roger Garland Violin, Leader
Skaila Kanga Harp
Paul Kegg Cello
Martin Loveday Cello
Rita Manning Violin
Mark Nightingale Trombone
Frank Ricotti Percussion
Colin Sheen Trombone
Jamie Talbot Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Philip Todd Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo, Alto Saxophone
Richard Bissill French Horn
Steve McManus Acoustic Bass
David Hartley Piano, Celeste, Toy Piano
Rolf Wilson Violin
Ian Humphries Violin
Andy Panayi Clarinet, Flute, Alto Saxophone
Rob Berman Conductor
James Patterson Vocals, Ensemble
Brian d'Arcy James Vocals
Andy Wood Bass Trombone
Jeffry Denman Vocals, Tap Dance, Track Performer
Karen Morrow Vocals, Track Performer
Meredith Patterson Vocals, Tap Dance, Track Performer
Natalia Bonner Violin
Manon Derome Violin
Cliff Bemis Vocals, Ensemble
Sara Brians Vocals, Tap Dance
John Anderson Oboe, Cor anglais
Simon Baggs Violin
Melissa Phelps Cello
Anastasia Barzee Vocals, Track Performer
Phillip Attmore Vocals, Ensemble
Jeremy Benton Vocals, Ensemble
White Christmas Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Tim Federle Vocals, Tap Dance
Mark Ledbetter Vocals
Stefanie Morse Vocals
Jennifer Mathie Vocals
Kevin Worley Vocals
Brent McBeth Vocals
Melissa Mahon Vocals
Kristen Beth Williams Vocals
Julie Andrews Bassoon
Katie Kerwin Vocals
Jennifer Prescott Vocals
Shannon O'Bryan Vocals
James McLeod Violin
Randy Skinner Vocals
Vincent III Rodriguez Vocals
Jonathan Evans-Jones Violin
Kristie Kerwin Vocals
Pilar Milhollen Vocals
Drew Humphrey Vocals
Beth Crosby Vocals
Jonathan Williams Cello
Technical Credits
Irving Berlin Composer, Lyricist
Joel Moss Producer, Engineer, Engineering
Larry Blank Orchestration
Scott Hull Mastering
Rolf Wilson Orchestra Leader
Walter Bobbie Director
Bruce Pomahac Arranger, Vocal Arrangements, Dance Arrangement
Theodore S. Chapin Liner Notes
Rob Berman Producer, Music Direction
Jan Folkson Engineer, Engineering
David Ives Author, Book
Kurt Deutsch Executive Producer
Kevin McCollum Executive Producer
Carrie Robbins Costume Design
Jay Binder Casting
Paul Blake Author, Book
Wayne Blood Music Librarian
Anika Chapin Synopsis, Plot Synopsis
Ted Chapin Executive Producer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    White Christmas The Musical Is A ShowStopper!

    Updated and Contemporary Versions of Irving Berlin Classics, this show has heart! Count Your Blessings is a great cover. While the classics like White Christmas and Snow will be great for the Holidays, the other Classics like Blue Skies, The Best Things Happen When Your Dancing and Sisters are great year round. A true holiday classic for years to come! Every single song is great and worth the price of admission.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews