Review: ‘Christmas Inn’ at Westchester Broadway TheatrePublished: Saturday, December 10, 2016 By: Lori Speiser Source: DC Metro Theatre Arts
Christmas time, as it says in the famous song, “is the most wonderful time of the year.” So during the month of December, Westchester Broadway Theatre is taking a break from its scheduled lineup and is providing their audience with a heartwarming and a toe-tapping Christmas show.
Christmas Inn, with book and original lyrics by Kathy Keating Wheeler and Bob Simmons, original music and arrangements by Steven Silverstein, and book revision by Richard Stafford, was originally produced here in 2006, and it’s back for another holiday run.
The family-friendly story of Christmas Inn centers around two men, Buddy Baker (Jayson Elliot) and Bill Brewer (Kilty Reidy), who were partners for years and came together every Christmas at an inn they co-owned to put on a Christmas show. Unfortunately, they had a falling out. Subsequently their children, one a delightful young lady and the other a handsome young man, the housekeeper and her granddaughter, and the crew of four dancers who arrive to join the show, all work together to reunite the famous duo.
If this description sounds a bit like the classic Christmas films White Christmas and Holiday Inn – it is not a coincidence, as these movies are ‘cheekily’ referred to during the play. The story is predictable, but fun, and the cast does a great job.
The opening number by Jayson Elliott and Kilty Reidy was vaudeville-like in style complete with canes, as they portrayed their characters’ ancestors. Their Irish accents never sounded over-the-top, and their tenor voices were beautiful. Elliott’s laugh was infectious.
Sarah Cline, who played Linda Baker, Buddy’s daughter, had a beautiful voice. She sang “In the Bleak Midwinter” in a lovely soprano and followed with “Where Are You Christmas?” Nick Varricchio portrayed Sam, Bill’s son, and his scene with Linda – where he explains why he enlisted – was truly touching.
Led by Dance Captain Daniel Scott Walton, Ensemble members Joel Pellini, Holly Googe, and Gabriella Perez did a great job dancing and harmonizing. My favorite vocal performance was delivered by Gabriella Perez as she sang “Away in a Manger.” The choreography and direction by Richard Stafford was a charming highlight.
Haunting and magical, each of the four ensemble members embodied a children’s toy in a way that was unique and beautiful. While the softer numbers were enchanting, the more energetic numbers like the “Jingle Bell Medley” were also terrific fun.
There are many reasons to go see Christmas Inn: There are 27 Christmas carols, various dancing numbers, including a fun tap dance to “Good News.” There is also a young singer who captivated the audience, not only with her singing, but with her ‘bounciness.’ On the evening I attended, that young singer portraying Josie, the housekeeper’s granddaughter, was Molly Culot.
Also, Ann-Ngaire Martin was terrific as Maxine, the frustrated housekeeper. She is hilarious as she over-drinks, and you have to see her antics while she was singing “12 Daze of Christmas.” It had the audience in stitches! [Please notice her slippers].
The final song of Christmas Inn was the poignant “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” which was performed by the full Company. After taking their final bows, the cast invited the audience to join them in a 6-carol ‘sing-a-long.’ It was the perfect festive ending to a wonderful holiday show.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with a 30-minute intermission.