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I’m Dreaming of an Engeman White Christmas

Darien Crago, Drew Humphrey. Photo by Alan Pearlman.

Darien Crago, Drew Humphrey. Photo by Alan Pearlman.

The smashing production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport is a must-see experience this holiday season. White Christmas plays through January 5, 2014, on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m.; Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $65.00 and on sale at the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport, by calling (631) 261-2900, or on www.engemantheater.com.

I am still dreaming of White Christmas, which put me right into the holiday spirit with its mesmerizing tap dances, reminiscent of Engeman’s production of 42nd Street, and holiday classics written by Irving Berlin. “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is The Ocean” and the favorite, “White Christmas” were festive, fun, and engaging, especially when the audience was asked to sing along.

Engeman’s adaptation is based on the film and opens with the main characters who are vaudeville stars and Army war veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, played by Aaron Ramey and Drew Humphrey, respectively. The men perform in The Ed Sullivan Show, 1954, and then meet sisters Judy and Betty Haynes, played by Darien Crago and Kennedy Caughell, while out celebrating at Jimmy’s after the show. Instead of heading south to Florida, the men end up following the sisters–and hopefully, some romance–up North to Vermont, where they were hired to do a Christmas show at the Columbia Inn.  It’s not exactly what Bob Wallace had in mind since the plan is hatched up by Phil Davis. Bob doesn’t find out he’s really heading to Vermont until they hear the train conductor announce “Providence, next” on the train.

Act 2 opens with the brilliant “I Love A Piano” with Humphrey as Phil and Crago as Judy, both of whom appeared in Engeman’s fabulous production of 42nd Street. The Broadway-worthy singing and dancing team of Crago and Humphrey is brilliant, with the piano actually incorporated into the dance. Another exciting and very entertaining number, “Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun,” follows in scene 2 with Martha, played by Kathryn Kendall, and sisters Judy and Betty.

There’s also a comical misunderstanding with Betty deciding she’s not in love with Bob after all because he is underhanded and a ruthless business man who is trying to buy the Inn away from its owner. Then, they realize the misunderstanding and reunite with a beautiful duet in the final scene, “How Deep is the Ocean.”

The finale is festive and happy with the audience singing along for “White Christmas” and “I’ve Got my Love to Keep Me Warm.”

Kathryn Kendall and Company. Photo by Alan Pearlman.

Kathryn Kendall and Company. Photo by Alan Pearlman.

Ramey’s (Bob) Broadway credits are JEKYLL & HYDE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, CURTAINS, MILLIE (Original Cast), National Tours include SOUTH PACIFIC and DISNEY’S BEAUTY & THE BEAST.  Caughell’s (Betty) most recently played the role of Heather on the Int’l/2nd Nat’l tour of AMERICAN IDIOT! Regional credits include Sarah Brown in GUYS AND DOLLS (New London Barn), Little Red in INTO THE WOODS (CPCC), and Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA! (Discoveryland). Humphrey (the Choreographer for White Christmas who plays Phil) returns to The Engeman, where he was last seen in 42ND STREET .  Humphrey also appeared in the Broadway production of WHITE CHRISTMAS. Regionally he was seen in CRAZY FOR YOU, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, CATS, THE MUSIC MAN, WEST SIDE STORY.  He has also performed at the Kennedy Center for Ted Kennedy and President Obama. Crago (Judy Hayes) played Peggy Sawyer in the Engeman’s production of 42nd STREET last season and went on to perform in DAMES AT SEA at the Infinity Theatre Company, Paper Mill Playhouse’s THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, and the Broadway National Tour of WHITE CHRISTMAS. KENDALL (Martha Watson) has been featured in the National Tour of WHITE CHRISTMAS and performed the role at the Kennedy Center. NY and National Tours include JEROME ROBBINS BROADWAY, 42nd STREET REVIVAL, NUNSENSE, SHOWBOAT, MERMAN! (Lincoln Center) and ANYTHING GOES. DREW TAYLOR (plays General Waverly) was recently seen in THE MUSIC MAN at The Royal Opera House. Broadway credits include SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, THE SECRET GARDEN, ANNIE . National tours and Regional credits include ANNIE , OLIVER, GIGI, CAN-CAN  w/Chita Rivera as well as performances at Goodspeed, Papermill, The McCarter and THE RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR.

The cast also includes: NIKKI DELLA PENTA, KATIE DOLCE,  TIM FUCHS, ERIC GREENGOLD, BRAD GRIMMER, JEREMY HUDSON, CLAIRE LEVASSEUR, COURTNEY MORAN, DANIEL PLIMPTON, LANAE RHODES, MOLLY RUSHING, DEREK JOHN TATUM, JENNIFER COLLESTER TULLY, and STEPHEN VALENTI.

The Director, MARK ADAM RAMPMEYER, is the Associate Artistic Director of The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport. Previous directorial credits at The Engeman include A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS and 42ND STREET for the main stage, as well as several Youth Theater Series Productions including PINKALICIOUS, RAPUNZEL, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, GOODNIGHT MOON, and the seasonal favorite FROSTY.  As a stylist his work has been seen on Broadway in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and ALL SHOOK UP.  Broadway design work includes TALLEY’S FOLLY, LYSISTRATA JONES, WEST SIDE STORY and THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION.  He was the recipient of a 2010 Drama Desk award for his contributions to the design team for Horton Foote’s ORPHANS’ HOME CYCLE at the Signature Theater.

The Music Director, JAMES OLMSTEAD, returns to the Engeman Theater after previously music directing SOUTH PACIFIC and SWEET CHARITY.  Assistant music director credits include NYU’s productions of MOST HAPPY FELLA, MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, VIOLET, FOOTLOOSE, LEGALLY BLONDE, RAGTIME, HOT MIKADO, and HELLO, DOLLY.

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