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Marriott Theatre's 'Holiday Inn' a Fitting Ode to the Crosby, Astaire Classic

Marriott Theatre brings yet another high-energy, song and dance production to its audience, this time mounting the regional premiere of ‘Holiday Inn’, a sentimental musical based on the 1942 film of the same name featuring the music of Irving Berlin and starring such great as Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Denis Jones and musically directed by Jeff Award winning Ryan T. Nelson, ‘Holiday Inn’ might just be one of Marriott’s greatest triumphs over the past few years.

“I am completely elated to revisit my work from the Broadway production of ‘Holiday Inn’ at the Marriott Theatre,” says Jones. It’s an honor to celebrate some of the greatest works of Irving Berlin and join forces with some of the most talented actors in theatre. With mesmerizing costumes and equally enthralling performances, audiences will leave with a few holiday surprises and a whole lot of holiday spirit.”

And though classics such as “White Christmas”, “Easter Parade”, “Blue Skies”, “Heat Wave”, “Be Careful, It’s my Heart” and “Shaking the Blues Away” are performed to perfection, it is the dance numbers in this production that truly steal the audience’s breath.

Jim Hardy (Michael Mahler) and Ted Hanvover (Will Burton) are best friends. The two entertainers have found a tremendous amount of success in New York as a song and dance trio that also stars Lila Dixon (Kimberly Immanuel). Lila and Jim are also quite the item and Jim wants nothing more to marry her. But the New York scene has run its course with Jim, so he also wants to hang up his tap shoes and take to the country. He proposes to his Lila, who accepts, and then shows her the deed to a farmhouse in Connecticut that he has just purchased in the hopes she would also want to give up show biz for a quiet life in the country. So, maybe he should have discussed such a major decision with Lila prior to making such a large purchase. When the three are offered a six-month touring engagement, Lila breaks Jim’s heart and hits the road with Ted. So it’s off to the country, alone, for Jim.

Dejected, Jim soon arrives at his newly purchased farmhouse ranch only to find Louise (Marya Grandy), a self-proclaimed “fixit man”, kind of comes with the house. In exchange for room and board, Louise will tend to the farmhouse but her title of “fixit man” extends much beyond the home itself. It isn’t long before the daughter of the previous owners, Linda Mason (Johanna McKenzie Miller), stops by to pick up some of the things that were left behind when the farmhouse was foreclosed upon. It isn’t long before a friendship develops and perhaps a spark ignites between them. It also isn’t long before Jim realizes farming might not be for him and longs for the stage again. And, as it turns out, Linda just so happens to have some performing experience of her own. But why go back to New York when you can bring New York to you? Just after Jim gets a surprise visit from a large group of performing friends, he comes up with the idea of turning the farmhouse into an entertainment getaway. After all, he’s got the floor space and plenty of rooms for guests. When his performer friends cannot commit to regular shows because of their own hectic schedules, it is decided shows will only be staged over the holidays – thus, ‘Holiday Inn’.

As chemistry builds between Jim and Linda, a drunken Ted reappears during opening night who briefly dances with Linda and soon has his sights on her as his new dance partner since Lila has left him for a Texas millionaire. Jim quickly finds himself in a similar situation, so we can only hope things will turn out differently for the all-around nice guy who may have found love once again.

‘Holiday Inn’ is filled with big, spirited dance numbers that are pure visual delights and the highlights are many. Will Burton’s recreation of Astaire’s “Let’s Say it with Firecrackers” is certainly one of them as he brilliantly taps his way around the stage with a bang – several bangs in fact. Johanna McKenzie Miller also leaves a strong impression, beautifully showcasing her amazing voice in such songs as “Nothing More to Say” and “White Christmas”. And throughout the talented dancing and singing offered in this production, Marya Grandy balances out the show with her incredibly funny performance as Louise, adding plenty of laugh out loud moments. A world-class ensemble that includes the familiar faces of Joe Capstick, Adam LaSalle, Laura Savage and Alejandro Fonseca pushes this musical into overdrive, while Lorenzo Rush Jr. as agent Danny Reed is a pleasure to watch in every scene he graces and child actor Patrick Scott McDermott also adds several moments of well-delivered humor.

Marriott Theatre presents a gem of a holiday treat that can be enjoyed by everyone.