Holiday Inn

by Daniel Neiden

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday October 20, 2016

Corbin Bleu, Lora Lee Gayer, Bryce Pinkham and company
Corbin Bleu, Lora Lee Gayer, Bryce Pinkham and company  

Assignment: The relatives are heading to New York for another seasonal blitz and they want to see a big, brash, beautiful Broadway show.

Solution: Brag that you happen to know the Roundabout Theatre has taken 20 of Irving Berlin's incredible classic songs and fashioned a new musical take on them, keeping to the original classic film, and you've got (and can still get) a very hot, happy, holiday ticket to "Holiday Inn" at Studio 54.

The script, by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, is sharp; Denis Jones' fertile choreography stops the show; and your whole row will perk up at the astonishing array of familiar Berlin gems, including, "Blue Skies," "White Christmas," "Steppin' Out with My Baby," "Shaking the Blues Away," "Easter Parade," "Cheek to Cheek" and "Heatwave."

Synopsis: Jim Hardy (the always awesome Bryce Pinkham) leaves the bright lights of show business behind to settle down on his farmhouse in Connecticut. He quickly discovers life isn't the same without a bit of song and dance. Jim's luck takes a spectacular turn when he meets Linda (the fetching, funny, and versatile Lora Lee Gayer), a spirited schoolteacher with talent to spare. Together they turn the farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July.

And dazzle they do, especially when Corbin Bleu dances us into happy submission (as I think he will for many shows to come); or when audience favorite, Lee Wilkof shows us what an all-time comic pro can bring to a standard (but slick) will-they-or-won't-they plotline.

The whole darn cast is solid. Megan Lawrence was out the night I attended, but the hi-wattage Jennifer Foote was on. "On" is as much an understatement as a Klieg spotlight (Foote-light?) outside Radio City. She delivers!

The occasionally quaint qualities of the overall show don't need forgiving, because just when it seems the gang is heading into sappy "Hey, let's do a show" territory, this very talented company jolts the house with jaw-dropping production numbers that continue to give the Broadway experience its own unique and beloved New York particularity. And Berlin is certainly back on Broadway. Blue skies, indeed!

"Holiday Inn" runs through Jan. 15, 2017 at Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street. For tickets or information, call 212-719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org

Daniel Neiden is a writer and composer who develops socially conscious theater projects.