The reviews are in: Broadway’s White Christmas is critic-proof tourist bait! The dailies don’t come out and say it, but from the dispirited tone of their pans, they seem resigned to it.
“You’d have to be in a desperately, even pathologically nostalgic mood… to derive much joy from the stage retread of White Christmas,” sighs Charles Isherwood at the Times, though his closing shows he is painfully aware that America is full of such people: If you seek “old-school Broadway escapism,” Isherwood wearily counsels, “and the prospect of singing the title tune along with a bright-beaming Broadway cast in festive sweaters fills you with seasonal cheer… White Christmas should be put somewhere on your wish list.” (We like that “somewhere,” which we assume was meant to thwart publicists seeking a pull-quote.)
Frank Scheck declares upfront he’s “a sucker for Christmas,” hoping that when he calls the show “lacking in genuine Yuletide spirit” proley Post readers won’t put it down to Woollcottian misanthropy. (Photo caption: “The bland leading the bland.”) The News‘ Joe Dziemianowicz is more game, finding it “a little creaky” but “as a holiday entertainment, it’s light and bright and boasts some great production numbers.” So go ahead, take your relatives from Elmira, and keep Broadway alive.
“Not the most artistically ambitious show,” squirms amNY, ” but “it feels absolutely lovely to allow its old-fashioned entertainment and generous spirit wash all over you like a giant flurry of snow.” And then let yourself drift into a peaceful, never-ending hypothermic sleep, we’re sure the editor was tempted to add.
The Lower Hudson Valley Journal-News‘s Jacques Le Sourd gets “Humbug” into the headline, and contents himself thereafter with Addison DeWitticisms: “The innkeeper is a former general, Henry Waverly, brilliantly played by Dean Jagger in the movie. Charles Dean plays him here.”
Oddly, the most equanimous notice is from old crank John Simon, who lavishes praise on the sets, costumes, and choreography, and says the show “makes for a bright evening.” Perhaps he had a cold.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 24, 2008