‘White Christmas’ opens at Phipps this weekend

Bob (Kevin Leines, Hudson, center) teaches young Susan (Victoria Wyffels, Stillwater) to “Count Your Blessings” as General Waverley (Tom Monn, Woodbury, left) and Betty (Lynnea Sundman, Minneapolis, right) look on in a rehearsal scene of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. (Submitted photo)

Bob (Kevin Leines, Hudson, center) teaches young Susan (Victoria Wyffels, Stillwater) to “Count Your Blessings” as General Waverley (Tom Monn, Woodbury, left) and Betty (Lynnea Sundman, Minneapolis, right) look on in a rehearsal scene of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. (Submitted photo)

Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” a stage adaptation of one of America’s most popular Christmas films starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, began Nov. 1 and will run through Dec. 1 at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

After leaving the Army after World War II, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes, who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the failing inn.

Filled with dancing, romance, laughter, and some of the most memorable songs ever written, it promises to be a merry and bright experience for the entire family. Berlin’s score features 17 songs, including “Happy Holiday,” “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “I Love a Piano,” “How Deep is the Ocean,” “Sisters,” and “White Christmas.”

Director Gorden Hedahl, a retired professor of theater and dean emeritus of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, earned graduate degrees in theater from the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota, and has directed over 65 productions for university, community, and semi-professional theaters. He directed “It’s a Wonderful Life” last year for The Phipps.

Hedahl notes that the song “White Christmas” is the best selling recording of all time. Crosby’s recording released in 1942 has sold more than 50 million singles and 100 million records.  There are over 500 recorded versions of the song by other artists ranging from Andy Williams to Twisted Sister.

As for “White Christmas,” the musical comedy, it premiered in San Francisco in 2004, made its way to Broadway in 2008 and 2009, and is just now being produced widely around the country.

Hedahl thinks fans of the film may notice a few changes.  “The theater can’t instantly change scenery and costumes, so the script had to be restructured. A few of the characters were developed nicely. For example, Martha and Susan now get to sing and are involved with more of the action. Some of the songs were replaced by favorites from the Berlin songbook, giving us some fun production numbers. But I believe the essence of the film has been retained. Most significantly, the theater provides an event presented just for you, live and in person for every performance.  We can’t cut and edit mistakes, and the actors sing and dance for your entertainment.”

The director hopes that the show will put everyone in the mood for the holiday season.

Performances will be given November 1 – December 1 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. as well as Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $24 for adults and $17 for students of all ages, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715.386.8409 or online at thephipps.org.

Also at the Phipps:

Ballroom Dance Parties 

Ballroom dance parties will be offered on Saturdays, Nov. 2 and 16, as well as Dec. 7 and 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. in the dance studio of The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

Tom Larson will offer a ballroom and Latin dance lesson during the first hour. This is an opportunity to have fun trying out new dance skills in a relxed and comfortable environment. Dancers of all experience levels are welcome. Refreshments will be provided. Admission is $12 per person. Larson has taught at The Phipps since 2003 and owns the Ballroom and Wedding Dance Studio in Minneapolis. He performed for two seasons with The Continental Ballet Company.

For further information, contact The Phipps Center at 715.386.2305.

Dance classes offered 

The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin, offers weekly dance technique classes for children and adults through May 2014. Students can now register for ballroom dance, salsa/Latin, jazz, hip-hop, musical theater, tap, ballet, contemporary/lyrical, and preballet/tap. The class year is divided into four eight-week quarters and the preballet/tap classes are divided into two-16 week semesters. All instructors are experienced as both educators and performers. Class details and prices can be found online at thephipps.org.

Knitting Class Open for
Enrollment at The Phipps

A two-day knitting class for adults is being offered on Sunday, November 3, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 17, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

“Add sparkle to any occasion with the art deco beaded scarf you create in this class,” says instructor Diane L. Augustin. The scarf is knit with beads placed in a graduated fashion at both ends. It is reversible, displaying a different look on each side. Selvage edge stitches at the beginning and end of each row will also be taught as part of this project. Students must be familiar with knit and purl stitches.  The class fee of $65 includes pattern and beads. Participants should request a materials list upon enrollment.

For more information or to enroll, contact The Phipps Center at 715.386.2305 or go to thephipps.org.

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