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Holiday Inn - the new Irving Berlin musical is sure to please. Sure to sprinkle stardust in everyone’s eyes

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

Just when you think HOLIDAY INN, the new Irving Berlin Musical can’t possibly get any better – it does. With an affectionate and respectful wink to the original 1942 film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire book writers Gordon Greenberg & Chad Hodge have given the story a fresh facelift and revitalized the incredibly wonderful songs of Irving Berlin with new and inventive orchestrations by Larry Blank and vocal and dance arrangements by Sam Davis and Bruce Pomahac. The songs seem brand new. At least they sound brand new.

And are delivered by a young and ultra-talented cast headed by Bryce Pinkham (Jim Hardy) whose strong tenor has an echo of the past and Corbin Bleu (Ted Hanover) whose stylish dancing doesn’t mimic Mr. Astaire but pays homage to his finesse while making the numbers his own. The “firecracker” sequence is spectacular.

This terrific Roundabout production at Studio 54 is no slap-dash remake of its source material but a well thought out, clever, reverential valentine to the movies of the period and Irving Berlin’s brilliant musicianship.

The attractive, colorful and fast moving mobile sets by Anna Louizos set the scenes perfectly – appearing magically in all their holiday finery - and know enough to get out of the way when the young and equally attractive multi-racial singers and tappers raise the roof with their precise and exuberant execution of the show stopping choreography by Denis Jones.

I do believe that “Shaking the Blues Away” will become a classic number. It’s a perfect pearl. Centered on a necklace of matching pearls created by Mr. Denis Jones – each placed to perfection by director Gordon Greenberg.

The story. I almost forgot. Jim and Ted have a club act with Lila Dixon (Megan Sikora). Jim (Bryce) wants to marry Lila and settle down in a farm that he has bought in Connecticut. Although she loves him she loves show biz more and goes off with Ted (Corbin) a fine excuse for “Heat Wave.”

Back at the farm that is falling apart Jim meets Linda Mason (Lora Lee Gayer) the former owner and would be performer and her handywoman Louise (Megan Lawrence) who leads the will-become-a-classic “Shaking the Blues Away” production number that I wanted to see repeated immediately.

To save the farm from foreclosure they have hatched the idea that the INN will produce shows only for the holidays – a fine excuse for all those Berlin standards that he wrote for the holidays: “Easter Parade” “White Christmas” and “Happy Holiday” and a slew of others that will have you humming and bouncing in your seats with glee. And drooling over the fabulous Easter bonnets.

Needless to say there are complications usually announced by the young Charlie Winslow (Morgan Gao) who commands the stage with his every entrance of impending news. Love is the other as Lila goes off to Dallas to marry money and Ted tries make a name in Hollywood with the help of his agent Danny (Lee Wilkof). There is a pitch perfect filmed coda that surprises.

The numerous costumes of the stylish and eye-popping sort are designed by Alejo Vietti. Sound design by Keith Caggiano couldn’t be better.

HOLIDAY INN is sure to please. Sure to sprinkle stardust in everyone’s eyes. This exceptionally entertaining production will have you leaving Studio 54 in a much better mood than when you entered. Guaranteed. Through January 15, 2017

2 hours 15 minutes. One intermission.

Photo: Joan Marcus

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