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November 26, 2013

Theatre stages “White Christmas” at Vint Hill

The Fauquier Community Theatre cast puts on its dancing shoes for the holiday classic, “White Christmas.”
It’s very touching, especially to anyone who’s been in the military and anyone who has served during war. I’m hoping we give a glimpse of how people bond through those experiences.
— Director Susan Noé
By Dixie Walters
Fauquier Community Theatre

Patriotic, funny, romantic and sentimental. You can’t go wrong with a production that brings all those qualities together.

That’s exactly what Fauquier Community Theatre has in store for audiences with its seasonal offering, “White Christmas,” which opens a three-weekend run this Friday at Vint Hill.

There’s stellar singing and dancing, too. The play features the songs of Irving Berlin, including the classic title song made famous by Bing Crosby, who played one of the lead characters in the 1954 film that the stage production is based upon.

“You can call it a musical extravaganza because it is,” says the play’s director, Susan Noé. “It’s just wild what all we have packed into this show.”

Ms. Noé credits Choreographer Susan Shumaker and Music Director Ivy Elizabeth Cole with bringing those aspects of the production to life.

A familiar story

The story centers on two U.S. Army buddies who develop a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. When their paths intersect with a duo of singing sisters (played by Danica Shook and Corinne Shumaker), their lives get even more interesting as they accompany the sisters to a Christmas performance at a Vermont ski lodge.

Ms. Noé says the storyline of the play follows the movie for the most part, “but there are a few extra twists and turns.”

Trying to find someone to inhabit the role that Bing Crosby is closely identified with wasn’t easy, but “Larry Keeling is awesome in the role of Bob,” says Ms. Noé, as is his counterpart, Phil.

“Phil was played by Danny Kaye in the movie, so he’s kind of a jokester,” she says. “Jonathan Caron plays that role to perfection.”

Military nostalgia

Nostalgia for the military is a theme that runs throughout the play, especially as the Army buddies discover that the ski lodge is operated by their former commanding officer, Gen. Waverly (Jim Constable), who has reluctantly traded the Army for the hospitality business. Making matters worse, the lodge is on the brink of financial ruin, thanks to an unseasonably warm Vermont winter.

The general’s old Army buddies rally to lift both his business and his spirits in an effort to help him find his footing in the civilian world.

Ms. Noé says the play is “about family,” but not necessarily in a traditional sense. “There’s the showbiz family, the military family, and all these families that are created by circumstances.”

“It’s very touching, especially to anyone who’s been in the military and anyone who has served during war,” she adds. “I’m hoping we give a glimpse of how people bond through those experiences.”

To underscore this theme, Ms. Noé is trying to orchestrate walk-on appearances at each performance of both active duty and retired members of the military who will appear in their own uniforms. “If it works, it’ll be great,” she says.

One way or another, the patriotic theme should resonate, along with the seasonal appeal, though the play is really more about the ties that bind people together than it is about Christmas.

FCT will stage “White Christmas” at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 29, Dec. 18 and Dec. 15.

Tickets range from $16 (for students and senior citizens) to $18 (adults) and can be purchased and printed online at or by calling 540-349-8760.

Saturday, Dec. 7, is “Scout Day,” with half-price tickets available for scouting groups. Dec. 12 is “Military Night,” with half-price tickets available to active military members and veterans.

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