Broadway veteran James Clow is making his second appearance in Washington this season as Bob Wallace in "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," the hit musical based on the beloved film from another era. In June, he starred at Signature Theatre in "First You Dream," to showcase the music of Kander and Ebb. This engagement at the Kennedy Center will run through the first week of January.
"This certainly is my capital year," he said, laughing. "I played this role in the Broadway production, in Detroit, at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, and now in this tour which already has been to Nashville, Columbus, Dayton and Buffalo. It's a big treat for every one in the cast to end the tour at the Kennedy Center through the holidays. It's like a huge reward."
The plot of the stage show that opens on Christmas Day, 1944, in the trenches parallels that of the 1954 film. The story of two World War II buddies who became entertainers in civilian life starred Bing Crosby as Bob, Rosemary Clooney as Betty and the music of Irving Berlin to enhance their developing romance.
"This takes place at a nostalgic period of time when there was an innocent feeling in the country and everybody was pulling together," Clow said. "One of Berlin's songs that was not in the movie, 'How Deep is the Ocean,' comes toward the middle of the musical when Betty goes off to New York for a job and I follow her. The song is my internal monologue while I watch her.
|'Irving Berlin's White Christmas'|
|Where: Kennedy Center Opera House, 2700 F Street NW|
|When: Through Jan. 6|
|Info: $25 to $150; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324; kennedy-center.org|
"The talented cast is fantastic, the choreography twinkles and the beautiful story goes back to a time when, if someone was in trouble, people would respond and come to the rescue immediately. On the surface, it's light holiday fare, but it's also about the nature of relationships. People come up to me afterward to talk about what the show means to them. Some of them saw the film and others have Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' album, which is still the most popular Christmas album of all time."
"Irving Berlin's music in 'White Christmas' is as fresh as it was when he wrote it. Both the music and the story appeal to all generations. No matter their age, everyone in the audience is thrilled by the big surprise at the very end. They look up, amazed, and you can see their eyes sparkling."