Sentimental favorites


POSTED: Friday, December 04, 2009

Although many Broadway musicals are based on a popular book or movie, the genesis of “;Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas'”; is more complicated than most. It's the stage version of a 1954 film that used Berlin's Christmas classic as the title track despite it being used in another film, “;Holiday Inn,”; more than a decade earlier.

“;The show has a very interesting history to it (for several reasons),”; Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director John Rampage agreed last week. Rampage is directing and co-choreographing DHT's Hawaii premiere of the production, which opens tonight and runs through Dec. 23. Caryn Yee is co-choreographer; DHT stalwart Emmett Yoshioka returns as musical director.

Not only did the song predate the movie by more than a decade, Rampage continued, but the modern musical took the long way to Broadway. Producers didn't take it to New York until after it enjoyed several years of success in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago.





        » Where: Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave.

» When: 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays through Dec. 20 and 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23; performances also at 3 p.m. Dec. 12 and 19, and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 through 23


» Cost: $12-$42 (discounts available)


» Info: 733-0274 or




Rampage said the producers were “;smart enough to know that the New York critics would attack it for being old-fashioned and sentimental, but (by then) it already had this great word-of-mouth and had been this huge success in all these other cities.

“;The (New York) critics tore it apart, and it did incredible business (anyway).”;

Looking at the DHT production, Rampage noted with quiet pride that two alumni of the DHT Shooting Stars program earned lead roles. Kyle Malis (Phil Davis), who played his first leading man role in DHT's production of “;The Drowsy Chaperone”; this fall, is taking another step forward as he stars in the role originated in 1954 by Danny Kaye.

“;I'm proud of him and what we've accomplished with him,”; Rampage said, adding that Mathis' love interest, Kathryn Lee (Judy Haynes), also came up through the Shooting Stars program.

“;They have this long history going back to being children (in Shooting Stars), but they have never played opposite each other before. They have the same feeling for the music ... the same feeling for the style, and it's because they've working together for so long.”;

That familiarity paid off in rehearsals.

“;They have this incredible dance number very reminiscent of what it is in the movie with Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, and because they're so used to the way I work and the way we work here at the theater, we did this major dance number in one rehearsal,”; said Rampage.

Joshua Varde-Laguana makes his DHT debut as Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby in the film); Nicole Sullivan completes the core quartet as Varde-Laguana's love interest. And Allen Cole, who starred as McMurphy in DHT's production of “;One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,”; returns to DHT in the nonsinging role of beloved General Waverly.

“;This is his first musical since 1979,”; Rampage said. “;He doesn't have to sing in the show, but he was just saying the other day that he had forgotten how different it is to put a musical together (rather) than a straight play.”;