‘White Christmas’ spreads holiday cheer - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

‘White Christmas’ spreads holiday cheer

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Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 7:00 am | Updated: 11:35 pm, Sat Mar 17, 2012.

Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is considered a classic film seen by many people around the holidays.

The 1954 Technicolor movie musical follows two World War II buddies, portrayed by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, who date sisters and team up to save a failing Vermont inn. The film featured a number of songs, including the famous title tune.

Broadway veteran Stephen Buntrock only had seen the movie once as a child but remembered the holiday spirit and “incredible songs.”

Buntrock stars as Crosby’s character, Bob Wallace, in the stage adaptation of “White Christmas,” which stops Dec. 6 at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium.

“Even if you’re not in the Christmas spirit, you will be by the time this show’s over,” said Buntrock, calling from rehearsals in New York.

The film has been beloved for many years and for good reason, according to Buntrock.

“It’s a great story with heart, but more than anything these songs by Irving Berlin have some incredible melodies and recognizable lyrics,” Buntrock said.

Famous tunes include “Sisters,” “I Love a Piano,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “White Christmas,” which won an Oscar for Best Song and was originally heard in the film “Holiday Inn” with Fred Astaire.

When he landed the role, Buntrock said he watched the film again for the first time since his childhood. But don’t expect a Crosby imitation from him.

“I’m not imitating him, but there was an ease to the way Bing Crosby was with his character in the film, especially with the way he moves,” said Buntrock, who appeared on Broadway last season with Bernadette Peters in “A Little Night Music.” “And that is what I wanted to bring to the table.”

“White Christmas” faithfully follows the plot of the original musical film but adds more holiday flare and spectacle.

“If you’ve ever wanted to see a spectacle of a show, then look no further than this musical with the dancing and costumes, along with the energy of the cast,” Buntrock said.

The stage version of “White Christmas” premiered in San Francisco in 2004 and played a number of regional theaters.

In 2008, a limited engagement Broadway production ran for several months.

“There is such a great spirit about this show that I believe it works well both on film and live on the stage,” said Buntrock. “It’s an uplifting show that would put anyone in the Christmas or holiday spirit right away.”

Mitchell Vantrease may be reached at 623-876-2526 or mvantrease@yourwestvalley.com.

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