"White Christmas" at the Renaissance Theatre

"White Christmas" features the dazzling songs Blue Skies, Sisters and the most famous festive song of all, White Christmas. 

MANSFIELD — It may be mid-November, but the Renaissance Theatre is already dreaming of a "White Christmas" with the opening of the classic musical this weekend. 

A tale of love and friendship, "White Christmas" is brought to life on the Renaissance Stage by director Michael Thomas, music director Kelly Knowlton, and choreographer Caroline Grace Williams. It features classic the classic ballads "Blue Skies," "Sisters" and of course, the show's namesake song. 

This is the second time in six years the Renaissance has staged a performance of "White Christmas," the last time being in November 2016. Only two of the original cast members from that performance have returned: Ryan Shreve and Condrea Webber, both reprising their roles as Phil Davis and Martha, respectively. 

"We're doing this show again because we really wanted that holiday cheer, that homey and heartwarming feeling back, because it's been a really hard time for the arts. And I feel like people are really excited to come back to the theater," Shreve said.

"It's clear that we are fortunate in this community to be able to open because of the support from the community, and not every regional theater is that lucky." 

Based on the 1954 film, the story of "White Christmas" follows veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis as they travel to a Vermont lodge for a special Christmas show with the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy. Their journey encounters a misstep when they discover the lodge is owned by their old Army general, who is in desperate need of their help.

While the story of "White Christmas" is the same, both Shreve and Webber return to their roles as different actors. For example, in-between steaming open letters and eavesdropping on phone calls, we also see Webber's character crave the lights of the stage. 

"I'm going to put a little more of myself into Martha, instead of last time when I was looking at lot at Martha's portrayal in the movie," Webber said. "This time, Martha's going to have a little soul and sass." 

Williams plays Betty, the rule-following sister of the duo. A subplot of "White Christmas" is Betty's personal journey of finding love, and Williams herself experiencing a journey of personal growth throughout the show. 

"Betty is very reserved, a little shy, and songs are jazzy and in a lower register, so I had to work a lot with (music director) Kelly Knowlton taking voice lessons to prepare for the role," Williams said. "And (director) Michael Thomas has been so supportive in encouraging me to branch out and gain those other skills." 

Other featured cast includes Michigan native John Broda as Bob Wallace, Akron’s Samantha Woodill as Judy Haynes, Scott Smith as General Waverly, Niko Carter as Ralph Sheldrake, Stephanie Hayslip as Tessie, George Swarn as Mike, Alyssa Racer and Mount Vernon’s Jillian Snow alternating in the role of Susan Waverly, and ensemble players Taylor Beasley, Rebecah Boesch, Stuart Corson, Elijah Gates, Christopher Hartman, Cassandra Kurek, Jamie Mayfield, Jackalyn Metz, Grayden Pierce, Zakari Ramos, Daniel Reaume, Payne Schwartz, Lexi Vega, Tonne Webber, Torre Webber, and Tiara Wightman.

The entire cast of "White Christmas" also had to gain a new dance skill: tap dancing. Williams and former Miss Virginia Dot Kelly led the cast through a tap intensive, teaching all the basic moves of a skill that has gone by the wayside in popularity. 

"It's great because not only are the cast members benefitting from this experience and adding another skill to their resume, we're also able to put on this full-scale production," Williams said.

"Every number is a production number; every number is big and in-your-face. And that's the beauty of it, that's why people love musicals." 

Due to overwhelming popularity, two additional shows have been added for a total of six performances of "White Christmas" at the Renaissance on Nov. 12, 14, 19 and 21. Tickets are available online at rentickets.org or over-the-phone at 419-522-2726 ext. 200. Student and child tickets are available for $15.

Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results are currently required for patrons 12 and older at all public events. Masks are required to be worn by all patrons 6 and older inside any Renaissance Theatre building.

Other COVID-19 related health protocols may be in effect at the time of performance, and are subject to change at any time. For the most up-to-date information, visit rentickets.org/safety

"It's just a good, happy family story for everyone to enjoy and get into the holiday spirit," Williams said. "This is a great show to let everybody relax and enjoy the holidays, and lift your spirits as we enter into the holiday giving season." 

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