SULLIVAN — Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is a much-loved holiday song recorded by Bing Crosby 75 years ago. The movie holds a special place in Americana as well.
The cast of Little Theatre-On the Square will bring the classic story to life for a holiday show Dec. 8 through 16. The last time the play appeared on the Sullivan theater's stage was 2010. Therese Kincade was one of the actors then, but now has the honor of directing the musical.
“It has a familiarity about it,” Kincade said. “Even more than just the story.”
The 18-member cast will be performing the much loved holiday classic similar to the 1954 film.
The story kicks off in 1944 with two gentlemen who begin a musical revue during World War II.
“It’s a beginning of their musical journey together,” said Matt Taylor, who plays one of the main characters, Bob Wallace. “That connection leads them into show business.”
Ten years later, they are on "The Ed Sullivan Show" after earning success as a musical act. The duo wants to put on their own show, but feel they need a sister act.
Enter the Haynes sisters.
“We are just a lovely little performing sister act,” said Heather Beck, who is onstage as Betty Haynes. “But my younger sister is a little more proactive than I. I want to play by the rules.”
They two groups eventually find each other after crossing paths through many musical tours. "As often is the case in musical comedy, love ensues,” Taylor said.
The couples decide to create a large production as a way to save a country inn owned by Maj. Gen. Thomas Waverly, the veterans’ fearless leader during the war. The director describes the play as a show within a show.
The large cast offers many humorous characters and elaborate dance numbers. “There is a lot of dancing,” said Grace Williams, as Judy Haynes.
The play may be a Christmas musical, but it also has many classics songs often heard throughout the year, including “Blue Skies,” “Sisters” and “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing.”
“Some you don’t know until you hear it,” said Corey John Hafner, who plays Phil Davis.
Another sentimental touch is the relationship between the veterans and their general.
“They feel so strongly for him and what he has done for them that they want to save his inn,” Kincade said. “That is the heart of the story.”
The outdoor scenes and bright-colored costumes are ideal for the winter story. “Including the muffs,” Kincade said. “In the '50s, that was a big deal.”
The play will have many costume and set changes, some within minutes of each other.
“There is a show backstage, too,” Hafner said.
The romantic story has heartwarming messages, and although it has moments of humor and lightheartedness, the cast sees sadness in the song and the play.
“Especially in the beginning on the war front,” Taylor said. “It gives you a new context with something you already love.”
“The music means so much more than what you put on when you are decorating the Christmas tree,” Hafner said.