Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at DPAC Is Smooth and Snappy, a Delightful Musical

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Durham Performing Arts Center stars (from left center) Kelly Sheehan, Jeremy Benton, David Elder, and Kerry Conte (photo by Jeremy Daniel Photography)

If you like shows representing “The Good Old Days,” then drive over to the Durham Performing Arts Center for Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical. You’d better hurry, because this delightful show has a relatively short run that ends on Sunday, Dec. 8th. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is a show-within-a-show, set in 1954, and is loosely based on the 1954 movie musical White Christmas, which features Irving Berlin’s timeless classic Christmas song “White Christmas,” which was introduced by Der Bingle in the 1942 movie musical Holiday Inn

This DPAC production is smooth and snappy, with seamless changes of lovely scenery and backdrops. There are no anachronisms or winks to the present here. This is pure 1950’s postwar costumes, songs, dances, chaste love affairs, and gung-ho American military loyalty.

Lamont Brown (left), Lorna Luft, and Drew Humphrey co-star (photo by Jeremy Daniel Photography)

Your kids might not get it, but it might actually be fun explaining it to them. It’s also an opportunity to see real pros perform true song-and-dance numbers.

The four leads — Davis Elder (Bob Wallace), Jeremy Benton (Phil Davis), Kerry Conte (Betty Haynes), and Kelly Sheehan (Judy Haynes) — all do a fine job of filling the shoes of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, respectively, from the 1954 film.

White Christmas stars Jeremy Benton (left) and David Elder (photo by Jeremy Daniel Photography)

Lorna Luft (Martha Watson) and Conrad John Schuck (General Waverly) add the additional appearance of two long-time stage and screen performers that may be recognizable from those of us who have been around a while. Young Emma Grace Berardelli, who plays the General’s granddaughter, Susan Waverly, is a particular delight when given the opportunity to sing and dance.

Yes, the material is dated; and there is a considerable amount of tap-dancing. If you are looking for modern or innovative dance numbers, this may not be the show for you. Still, the ensemble did a very nice job delivering this material in an enthusiastic way. The costumes were beautiful as well.

Kerry Conte (left) and Kelly Sheehan star in White Christmas (photo by Jeremy Daniel Photography)

If you are looking for a professionally produced and delivered musical with a holiday theme, I recommend that you get out to the Durham Performing Arts Center and enjoy Work Light Productions’ touring version of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

DPAC will present Irving Berlin’s White Christmas on Dec. 3-8 (photo by Jeremy Daniel Photography)

SECOND OPINION: Nov. 11th Cary, NC RDU on Stage mini-preview Lauren Van Hemert:; and Nov. 5th Durham, NC Backstage at DPAC Apple podcast interview with Jeremy Benton and Kelly Sheehan:

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS: THE MUSICAL at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 7, and 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $32.50 and up, plus taxes and fees. Click here to enter the digital lottery for $30 tickets.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and




THE TOUR:,,,,, and






“White Christmas” (1940 song): (, (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

White Christmas (1954 movie musical): (Turner Classic Movies page), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical (2000 St. Louis, 2004 U.S. National Tour, 2007 U.K. Tour, 2008 Broadway, 2009 Broadway Revival, 2014 West End, and 2007-19 touring musical comedy): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Irving Berlin (music and lyrics, 1888-1989): (official website), (Encyclopædia Britannica), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

David Ives (book): (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Paul Blake (book): (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).


Robert O’Connell is new to the Triangle, but not to the stage. As a playwright, he has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has an MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at and two humor anthologies from his blog, He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews