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'Holiday Inn' Review – Another Marriott Theatre Winner

My husband and I had the delight of seeing Holiday Inncurrently playing at Marriott Theatre (10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire) through January 6. This musical , recently on Broadway, was produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, at Studio 54 on October 6, 2016, and closed on January 15, 2017. Interestingly, this was inspired by and based on the 1942 movie of the same name.The score features works of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, songwriters in American history, Irving Berlin. This wonderful production boasts Tony Award nominee Denis Jones (Pre-Broadway: Tootsie; Broadway: Holiday Inn; Broadway/Marriott Theatre: Honeymoon in Vegas), who directs and choreographs this Broadway hit, joined by Jeff Award-winning Musical Director Ryan T. Nelson.

The movie is a classic; the songs that have become standards individually, and Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire were featured, among others. Wikipedia notes, “The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii occurred halfway through filming. As a result, the Fourth of July segment was expanded beyond Fred Astaire’s firecracker dance to include the patriotic number that highlights the strength of the US military.” The special effects in this number at the Marriott were a delightful surprise.

The story, somewhat modified from the movie is about Jim, who leaves the bright lights of show business wanting to settle down at his newly purchased farmhouse in Connecticut. Jim “inherited” a handywoman, “Louise” (Marya Grandy), who, in my view, stole the show. Jim has been left behind by Lila Dixon (who was supposed to marry him and run the farm with him) and Ted, who was the dancer in this trio. Linda, the former owner of the farmhouse is a spirited and very talented schoolteacher. With the delivery of various important messages from Charlie, a neighborhood boy who charmed the audience, Jim finds himself in debt, with a farm where nothing grows, with all of his friends singing and dancing in New York. Ultimately the farmhouse is turned into a fabulous inn, where visitors can stay and enjoy dazzling performances that celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. The wide- ranging hit songs were amazing and incomparable. That Irving Berlin wrote word and music was unusual and the words and music are singable, including, “Blue Skies,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Heat Wave,” “White Christmas,” “Shaking the Blues Away” and many more.

All of the performers were outstanding and could make me believe that singing, dancing and acting as well as piano playing, were so easy that everyone could do this-ha! Everything about this production was uplifting and impressive- dancing, choreography, costumes, lighting and sound, projections and a story that had more to it than you might expect. A special shout out for the dancing in “Heat Wave”.

HOLIDAY INN stars Michael Mahler as “Jim Hardy” (Marriott Theatre: Honeymoon in Vegas, City of Angels, Spelling Bee, Shenandoah), Will Burtonas “Ted Hanover” (Broadway: Holiday Inn, An American in Paris), Kimberly Immanuel as “Lila Dixon” (Off Broadway: Heartbreak Hotel, Pacific Overtures, The Fantasticks), Johanna McKenzie Miller as “Linda Mason” (Marriott: Oklahoma!, October Sky), Marya Grandy as “Louise” (Marriott: Honeymoon in Vegas, On the Town), Lorenzo Rush Jr. as “Danny Reed,” and Patrick Scott McDermott as “Charlie Winslow,” with Aaron Burr, Joe Capstick, Preetish Chakraborty, Annie Jo Ermel, Alejandro Fonseca, Adam LaSalle, Jarran Muse, Tony Neidenbach, Madison Piner, Liam Quealy, Collin Sanderson, Laura Savage, Amanda Tanguay, Elizabeth Telford, Bethany Tesarck, Diana Vaden and Jessica Wolfrum.

The production features amazing set designs by Scott Davis, fabulous costume design by Sally Dolembo, terrific lighting design by Jesse Klug, and sound design by Bob Gilmartin, properties design by Eleanor Kahn. The projections and media design by Anthony Churchill enhanced the production. Hair and makeup design by Jennifer Lightfoot and Miguel A. Armstrong were well done. Musical supervision and orchestra conducted by Patti Garwood received applause by a very appreciative audience.

This is such a feel good opportunity that everyone should get tickets soon and enjoy.