Area residents hoping for a white Christmas this year will have to look no further than Yankton’s Dakota Theatre during the holiday season.
The Lewis and Clark Theatre Company will present Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” musical at its downtown location Dec. 6-10 and 14-17.
The story follows veterans Bob Wallace (Michael Schumacher) and Phil Davis (Zack McComas) as they perform their successful song-and-dance act following World War II. After meeting beautiful sisters Betty (Cheyenne Schroeder) and Judy Haynes (Adayla Schroeder), the two men follow the women to Vermont for a Christmas show. When the group arrives, the veterans find their former commanding officer, General Henry Waverly (Matt Trenhaile), is the lodge owner and in danger of losing his business because of lack of snow and patrons. Wallace and Davis decide to perform their show to help business and to save the lodge.
The score includes hits such as “Sisters,” “Counting My Blessings,” “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” “Snow,” “I Love a Piano,” “Blue Skies,” “How Deep is the Ocean” and, of course, “White Christmas.”
“It’s a fun, decorative show and will get everyone in that holiday spirit,” said director Tara Gill.
While the show is based on the 1954 movie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, Gill said the musical focuses on the music and dancing portion of the film.
“The music is a lot of fun, and it’s catchy. I’ve been singing it every night since I starting doing this,” she said with a laugh.
Gill said the variety of music also adds to the entertainment of the show.
“It’s a little bit of jazz and tap and a little swing. And then it ties in with the classic ‘White Christmas’ song that everybody knows,” she said. “Most of my cast are teenagers, and they’re absolutely loving dancing to it.”
With the variety of music comes many types of dance, said choreographer Timera Cunningham. This is somewhat unusual, she said, as most musicals only feature one style.
“It’s quite a big dancing show,” she said. “It’s got a little bit of tap in it, some waltzy-swing stuff, a bit of a Rockette kickline kind of number, a bit of ballet and some of your good old-fashioned musical theatre style. It’s a pretty wide range.”
Cunningham said one of her main tasks has been to create choreography for all those styles that works with a wide range of cast members.
“It’s kind of a new experience, but it’s been really fun and everyone’s had a really positive attitude,” she said.
Gill also credited the cast members for their commitment. She said with many high school students performing in the show, it has been a challenge to coordinate rehearsals around other activities, but they have made it work.
“Everyone has worked together, and we’ve dedicated a lot of weekends for it,” she said. “It’s a great cast and they’ve worked really hard. They’re very talented people.”
Additional cast members include: Martha Watson — Vicki Geiser; Susan Waverly — Lillian Vetter; Ralph Sheldrake/Dance Boy — Logan Haak; Rita — Olivia Hudson; Rhoda — Ronni Pospisil; Ezekiel Foster — Dan Gill; Mike — Corey Pospisil; Tessie — Renee Hansen; Jimmy/Dance Boy — Jacob Smith; Snoring Man/Dance Boy — Michael Haas; Snoring Woman — Lynell Kooistra; Train Conductor/Dance Boy — Sam Carda; Dance Captain/Dance Girl — Evan Schroeder; Dance Girls — Kayti Marlette, Mikayla Trenhail, Rachel Wood, Kelsey Westerman, Hannah Vetter; Soldier/Dance Boy — Avery Brockberg; Chorus Girls — Jasmine Gill, Leila Schumacher; Soldier — Andrew Pietz; Soldier/Dance Boy — Dalton Miller.
Showtimes for “White Christmas” are at 7:30 p.m. for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday shows and 2 p.m. for Sunday matinees. The Dec. 9 show is already sold out. Tickets can be purchased at the Dakota Theatre box office or by calling 605-665-4711.
“If people want to get in the holiday spirit and enjoy the music and enjoy the dancing and singing, it’s a great time to bring family and friends to watch it,” Gill said. “I think they’ll really enjoy it.”
You can follow Derek Bartos on Twitter at twitter.com/d_bartos