Kerry Conte and Rachel Rhodes-Devey have been rubbing elbows on the stage for quite a while now, as most people in the Indian Hills neighborhood of Slingerlands will tell you.
From the Galway Players in Saratoga County, to the New York State Theatre Institute in Troy, and now the national tour of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” the two young women and their careers have crossed paths for more than two decades. Ever since Kerry, three years Rachel’s elder, began baby-sitting at the Rhodes-Devey home three doors down from her own, the two have shared a love of musical theater.
‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. Dec. 24, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 26, and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 27
HOW MUCH: $75-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
Next week at Proctors in Schenectady, Conte, a 2002 Guilderland High graduate, and Rhodes-Devey, a 2005 Academy of Holy Names grad, will once again be in the spotlight, taking turns as the female lead, Betty Haynes, a character made famous by Rosemary Clooney in the 1954 movie with Bing Crosby.
“Kerry and I have performed together a lot, and she was always someone that I looked up to,” said Rhodes-Devey, who is Conte’s understudy on the national tour. “We also did a lot of car pooling back then.”
Rhodes-Devey usually plays a few different characters in the ensemble, while Conte is the regular “Betty” on the tour, which began in November in Providence, Rhode Island, and concludes in Schenectady on Dec. 27. But on Dec. 26, a Saturday, Conte will enjoy a day off and Rhodes-Devey will portray Betty for both the matinee and evening performances.
“I’ve done quite a few rehearsals, but Schenectady will be my first time going on as Betty,” said Rhodes-Devey. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
The visit to Proctors will be Conte’s second with a national tour, since she played Mrs. Banks and understudied the lead in the 2012 production of “Mary Poppins.” A University of Cincinnati grad, she says the message of “White Christmas,” along with Berlin’s music, are what make the show so special.
“I saw it once on stage in St. Louis back in 2006, but I remember more about the movie,” she said. “I love Christmas, and I love the message of this show, about people coming together to make something happen. It’s magical, and I get to sing some great songs.”
“Sisters” and “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” are two of the show’s more memorable tunes and are sung by Betty. The title song, “White Christmas,” is performed by the male lead, played by Sean Montgomery, while also in the cast are television star Conrad John Schuck as General Waverly.
“I’m really excited about performing at Proctors again, and my grandfather, who just turned 100, is coming to a show, so it’s going to be a special visit,” said Conte.
“I love so many things about ‘White Christmas,’ and musicals like this one are the reason I got into the theater,” said Rhodes-Devey. “Music and musicals have a way of connecting to people on a different level than just acting alone. It’s a different way of communicating. Music can express some things better than other forms of art can.”
“White Christmas” was first made into a stage play in 2004 in San Francisco. It played on Broadway during the Christmas season of 2008 and earned two Tony Award nominations.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]