CHECK IN TO "IRVING BERLIN'S HOLIDAY INN"


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Raise a glass of bubbly and give a sassy salute to composer Irving Berlin who graced our world with an ice bucket of hundreds of great and memorable tunes. It's time to celebrate the holidays and travel around the calendar with some of Berlin's most memorable hits. Goodspeed Musicals is the gracious host of this world premiere musical production that pays tribute to one of America's favorite songbook heroes.

Extended to Sunday, December 21, you're invited to do a happy holiday dance as "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn," with book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, welcomes you to the feast and festivities at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, that lovely tiered wedding cake of a theater on the Connecticut River.

Join in lively step with a trio of performers, Jim Hardy (Tally Sessions), Ted Hanover (Noah Racey) and Lila Dixon (Hayley Podschun), as they try to make the big time and hit the marquee's top billing. As hoofers and songsters, they know how to make the music beat in great syncopation. What happens, however, when this triangle splits at the seams, with Jimmy asking Lila to marry him and Ted wanting Lila to stay with him and make Hollywood and stardom their goal.

The homebody Jim wants to leave the bright lights and settle down in a Connecticut farmhouse, but he finds himself alone with the chickens and the rabbits. He hires a woman who has fix-it skills, Louise (Susan Mosher) who takes it upon herself to repair everything wrong in Jim's life, from his noisy radiator named Bruce to his faltering love life.

When the former owner of the farmhouse property arrives, a dazzlingly sweet Linda Mason (Patti Murin), the joint really gets jumping. Soon the reality of paying trivial matters like mortgages forces Jim, with a little help from his show biz friends, to be financially creative.

By opening the farm as a "holiday inn," to celebrate the special days of the year in music, dance and song, brings a lively solution to a hard nut of a problem and brings Lila and Ted and their agent Danny (Danny Rutigliano) right back to the open barn door. Periodic messages, of good and bad news, arrive thanks to the bright eyed delivery boy Noah Marlowe.

Lovely and lyrical Berlin tunes like "Steppin' Out With My Baby," "Heat Wave," "What'll I Do," "Shaking the Blues Away," "White Christmas," "Let's Take an Old-fashioned Walk" and "Easter Parade" make the show memorable. Gordon Greenberg keeps the pace high stepping, with lively choreography by Denis Jones, and the action fun on a set designed by Anna Louizos and delightfully costumed by Alejo Vietti.

For tickets ($27 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the Connecticut River, at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., (with select performances at 2 p.m.), Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.

Make a reservation for hours of joyous entertainment as a welcomed guest of "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn" where celebrating the special days of the year are on the agenda as soon as you check-in.

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CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE