Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 17, 2014

Holiday Inn

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT
through December 21, 2014
By R.E. Smith

Sometimes one cannot mince words: this is a remarkable show. Every aspect of Goodspeed’s original adaptation of the 1942 Crosby/Astaire movie musical glitters and shines with sincere attention to detail and love of the material.

Rebuffed by his fiancée and left by his partner, song and dance man Jim Hardy moves to a country house in Connecticut to start a new life. To make ends meet, he calls on his show biz friends to perform at the inn on holidays. Singing, dancing and romantic complications ensue. The solid book improves the plot of the movie, retooling some characters, scenes, and motivations to make a whimsical but grounded storyline.

To start, the tunes are so familiar that it is hard to believe this was never on stage before. Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”, “White Christmas” and Easter Parade” are just a few of the 25 standards easily integrated into the action.

The choreography by Denis Jones is spectacular, sometimes echoing the source and inventively interpreting the styles. Tap dance extravaganza “Shaking the Blues Away” had the audience on its feet and every number took advantage of the ensemble’s top-notch skill. Alejo Vietti’s costumes elicited “ooh’s and ahh’s,” providing authentic, colorful icing on this giddy song and dance confection.

Patti Murin and Noah Racey
Photo (c)Diane Sobolewski
Male leads Kelly Sessions (Jim) and Noah Racey (Ted) hint at the movie’s stars personalities, but create fine interpretations of their own. Sessions has to be sympathetic without being a patsy and Racey must be likable but self-centered. Patti Murin portrays love interest Linda’s arc from guarded teacher to energized star in authentic fashion. Susan Mosher’s “Handyman” Louise is a showstopper with just a few well-timed one-liners and facial expressions.

Highlights abound, from the Thanksgiving ensemble number “Plenty to be Thankful For,” to Sessions’ poignant vocal’s on “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” to Racey’s amazing footwork in “Let’s Say It with Fireworks”. As one gentlemen announced, to no one in particular, as he was leaving the theater: “I think they (Goodspeed) have a winner with this one!”