Dreaming of a ‘White Christmas?’ Proctors is the place for you

Bing Crosby fans hoping that the touring production of “White Christmas” coming to Proctors this wee

Bing Crosby fans hoping that the touring production of “White Christmas” coming to Proctors this week might pay a little homage to their iconic Hollywood hero will likely be a bit disappointed. John Scherer doesn’t quite croon the way Bing did.

“I don’t know if anybody could try to copy his style and get away with it,” said Scherer, who plays Bob Wallace in the 1954 Irving Berlin musical work originally created for the movie screen and revamped for the stage in 2004. “There’ll be some similarities because I’m playing the same character he did, but no, I don’t do Bing. It’s just me.”

Crosby and Danny Kaye starred as war buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis trying to drum up some business for their former commander, Gen. Henry Waverly, and his inn/restaurant during a snowy Vermont winter.

Re-imagining for stage

The story didn’t change much when David Ives and Paul Blake wrote the book for the stage version, which opened on Broadway in November of 2008 and earned Tony nominations for Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. Along with the classic title tune, other Berlin favorites included in the score are “Count Your Blessings,” “I Love a Piano,” and “Blue Skies,” the last two numbers both added to the stage production after not being in the 1954 movie.

‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 2 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $70-$20

MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org

“It’s the same story line but when you do something for the stage it usually gets re-imagined,” said Scherer. “Certain things have to change when you turn a movie into a stage show, and the film version had the advantage of two huge stars like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. However, most of the people I’ve talked to think the stage version is better than the movie.”

Brad Rudy, a critic in Atlanta where this production opened three weeks ago, wrote that the show is “just like the ones I used to know, with a cornucopia of pleasures. It’s an old-fashioned backstage story that wears its retro proudly, and wants nothing more than to give you a good time.”

Related story

For Gazette theater writer Matthew G. Moross’s review of this show, click here.

Scherer, who has also been busy doing various productions of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in Boston and in California as well as a version of “Spamalot” also in California, said “White Christmas” is great family entertainment.

“I saw it on Broadway two years ago and I loved it,” said Scherer. “It’s one of those feel-good shows you can take your kids to as well as the grandparents. It’s got a great score and some great production numbers. It was a little odd doing rehearsals before Halloween, but it certainly got us in the mood for the holidays.”

Buffalo area native

Scherer grew up in the Buffalo area and then went off to Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh where he majored in musical theater. After graduation, he immediately went to New York City and within four days of his arrival had a gig with an off-Broadway production.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well, this is going to be easy,’ and that was 25 years ago,” said Scherer, who has also done plenty of television work, including “The Shield,” “Crossing Jordan” and three “Law & Order” series. “It hasn’t always been easy but I’ve been pretty lucky and I’ve been very busy lately. I have not had a week off since May.”

Along with his numerous regional credits, Scherer has performed on Broadway, his resume including “Sunset Boulevard” in 1994, “By Jeeves” in 2001, and “LoveMusik” in 2007.

When his holiday gig with “White Christmas” concludes next month, Scherer will take some time off, then return to New York to resume working on a new production of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Joining Scherer in the “White Christmas cast are Denis Lambert as his pal, Phil Davis; Amy Bodnar as Betty Haynes (Rosemary Clooney in the movie); and Shannon O’Bryan as Judy Haynes, her sister (Vera-Ellen in the movie).

“Denis is the Danny Kaye character who was quite the womanizer, and I’m the guy who was more of a family man,” said Scherer. “My character is really looking for just the right girl.”

Song for ‘Holiday Inn’

The song, “White Christmas,” was originally written by Berlin for the 1942 movie, “Holiday Inn,” starring Crosby and Fred Astaire.

The plots for both movies were similar, with Crosby and Astaire heading to a farm in Connecticut to perform a special Christmas show. Astaire opted out of “White Christmas” and was replaced by Donald O’Connor, who then had a time conflict and was replaced by Kaye.

Categories: Life and Arts

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