Holiday Inn

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Photo: Joan Marcus Review
How does one best describe “Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical,” being presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54? Let’s say it will absolutely chase your blues away for two hours, but it isn’t quite good enough to warrant making a return reservation.

Director Gordon Greenberg and librettist Chad Hodge have rejiggered the beloved movie of the same name (although it remains pretty featherweight). The story still focuses on nightclub singer Jim Hardy (Bryce Pinkham, employing both his strong, supple voice and hangdog charm to fine effect), who gives up showbiz to buy a failing farm in Connecticut -- which eventually becomes the Holiday Inn, a B&B where shows are presented only on, yep, holidays.

Also still on hand from Berlin’s original story are Jim’s ex-trio mates, womanizer Ted Hanover (former Disney star Corbin Bleu, who proves to be a superb tapper) and fame-obsessed Lila Dixon (the delicious Megan Sikora, practically channeling Jean Hagen). While Lila’s ambitions come between the guys at first, the girl that both men ultimately fight over is Linda Mason (the triply talented Lora Lee Gayer), who in this telling is now the daughter of the farm’s original owner and an unmarried schoolteacher with her heart still a little bit in show business.

As good as the principals are, though, the standout performances come from the brilliantly funny Megan Lawrence as the farm’s good-hearted, no-nonsense caretaker, Louise, the hilarious Lee Wilkof as the trio’s beleaguered agent, Danny, and Morgan Gao, as good a child actor as I’ve ever seen, as the ultra-precocious Charlie Winslow.

Ok, enough about the actors: let’s face the music and dance! Greenberg has also kept most of the film’s original score (most notably, the Oscar-winning “White Christmas”) while interpolating a host of Berlin standards, including “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” (which both opens and closes the show), “Cheek to Cheek,” and “It’s a Lovely Day Today.” Needless to say, you’ll be humming the score on the way out of the theater (although Anna Louizos’ clever sets are worth a little humming of their own.)

The disappointment in the production comes primarily from Denis Jones’ choreography, which is never less-than-serviceable, but only really catches fire twice. Ironically, the first time is during the Christmas sequence late in Act One, when the ensemble makes our hearts jump during “Shakin’ the Blues Away,” and the second, in Bleu’s literally explosive solo turn to “Let’s Say It with Firecrackers.”

Conversely, there are a couple of truly missed opportunities: “Heatwave” simmers rather than sizzles (though Sikora and Bleu do their best to try to ignite this ill-conceived montage) and “Easter Parade” is staged so perfunctorily you wonder if the performers have a train to catch. (Also, I question whether it was the best decision for Alejo Vietti to costume Gayer in an almost identical outfit to the one Judy Garland wore while singing the very same song in the film “Easter Parade.”)

To quote one of the show’s other songs, “there’s plenty to be thankful for” in this crowd-pleasing diversion, it just didn’t capture my heart.
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer, Megan Lawrence, Megan Sikora, Corbin Bleu, Lee Wilkof, Malik Akil, Will Burton, Barry Busby, Darien Crago, Caley Crawford, Jenifer Foote, Morgan Gao, Matt Meigs, Shina Ann Morris, Catherine Ricafort, Drew Redington, Amanda Rose, Jonalyn Saxer, Parker Slaybaugh, Samantha Sturm, Amy Van Norstrand, Travis Ward-Osborne, Paige Williams, Victor Wisehart, Kevin Worley, Borris York

Open/Close Dates
Opening 9/1/2016
Closing 1/15/2017

Box Office

Theatre Info
Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019