Left to right: Rebecca Campbell, Tai Sammons, Michael Maisonneuve and Greg Younger appear in Camelot Theatre's production of 'White Christmas.' - Photo by Steve Sutfin

'White Christmas' opens at Camelot

When Camelot Theatre Company presents "White Christmas," some numbers will feature more than 20 actors crowded into the playing space, every one of them tap dancing.

"It's raising the bar for us," says Camelot Artistic Director Livia Genise, who is no stranger to directing musicals.

"For a lot of the actors, it's their first or second tap show. And we're not sure how we'll fit the orchestra in."

The big musical is based on the 1954 movie starring Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. It had its premiere in San Francisco in 2004, moved to Broadway in 2009 and has been revived widely. With a book written by David Ives and Paul Blake and Irving Berlin's music, it scored several Tony nominations.

The musical, like the film, starts in 1944 in Europe with World War II raging, then jumps to 1954 with television reigning supreme and programs such as "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Jack Benny Program" ruling the box.

Ex-soldiers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have teamed up to become a top song-and-dance act. When Phil meets beautiful sisters Betty and Judy, he plays matchmaker and introduces Bob to Betty. When the sisters travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Bob and Phil follow, only to find their former commanding general is the lodge owner. Romantic mix-ups follow as the guys try to help the General keep his lodge. Songs include "Blue Skies," "Sisters," "Count Your Blessings" and "White Christmas."

Michael Maisonneuve stars as Phil Davis, Greg Younger as Bob Wallace, Rebecca K. Campbell as Betty Haynes, Tai Sammons as Judy Haynes and Gwen Overland as Martha Watson.

"What's different in the play is that the movie came to be about Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye," says Genise. "The play is so much more the ensemble."

Maisonneuve recently appeared at Camelot as Ben in "Rags." Younger is an actor and playwright whose plays have been produced in New York City, Seattle and Phoenix. Sammons has acted with Oregon Shakespeare Festival productions as well as Camelot. Overland has acted in numerous Camelot shows, as well as directing "Moon Over Buffalo" and other plays.

Choreography is by Campbell, who directed and choreographed "The Secret Garden" and "Into the Woods" at Camelot. Musical Direction is by Mark Reppert, who directs the Siskiyou Singers. Playing in the orchestra are Lori Calhoun (woodwinds), Karl Iverson (keyboard), Jon Janakes (trumpet), Erin McKibben (keyboard) and Steve Sutfin (drums).

Genise says that getting the show up has involved challenges. Body microphones used in the recent "Always ... Patsy Cline" had become unreliable. One of the leading actors was involved in a car-pedestrian accident while on foot.

Even the script brought challenges to little Camelot, which will be phased out next year for a new facility.

"There are all these lines like 'Close the curtain' and 'Bring in the drop,' meaning something that would come down from the flies," says Genise. "We don't have those things, so we had to change the lines."

She says not to look for any deep meaning in the play.

"It just makes you feel good," she says.

"White Christmas" will preview Dec. 2, open Dec. 3 and run through Dec. 31 at Camelot, 101 Talent Ave., Talent.

Shows are set for 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $21, $19 for seniors and students. Preview tickets cost $12. A performance to benefit the Talent Chamber of Commerce will be held Dec. 1 with tickets set at $20. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered Dec. 8. There will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Dec. 24. There will be no performances Dec. 25 or Jan. 1. Student rush tickets cost $10 and will be available five minutes before each show. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2 per ticket.

The box office is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances. Call 541-535-5250. Tickets also may be purchased at www.camelottheatre.org.

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