HOLIDAY INN: A Feel Great Show!
Article written by Mrs. Maggie Bartlett
Most musicals are lucky to have one show stopping number. HOLIDAY INN, the new Broadway show adapted from the 1942 film starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, features a calendar full of classic and memorable Irving Berlin tunes. Besides the familiar hits from the film “Happy Holiday,” “Easter Parade,” and “White Christmas,” the show includes other numbers such as “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Blue Skies,” “Heat Wave,” and the Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers dance classic “Cheek to Cheek.” Berlin was known for writing music and lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple and direct, with his stated aim being to “reach the heart of the average American” whom he saw as the “real soul of the country.” The Cazenovia High School Drama Club embodied his songs, performed them with vigor and grace and supplied us with rousing, old fashioned, wholesome good time entertainment. Bravo to this cast!
The new musical, set in 1946 mainly follows the template of the beloved movie. When singer-songwriter Jim Hardy (Dalton Sevier) tires of showbiz, he shocks his best buddy Ted Hanover (Jonathan Benn), his fiancee Lila Dixon (Clara Wheeler) and showbiz agent Danny (Carter Williams) by leaving the bright lights of Broadway behind for a calm life in a farmhouse in Connecticut. Jim greets his new life with enthusiasm but finds the old farmhouse falling apart. Charlie Winslow ( Bobby Livingston ) a perceptive young lad working for the local bank presents Jim with a sizable bill for back taxes. Jim is then visited by the spirited Linda Mason (Ava Hartley), a spunky school teacher harboring immense talent and big dreams who had grown up on the farm. Linda and Jim are immediately attracted to one another and to be helpful she introduces Jim to Louise Badger (Claire Edwards), an overly enthusiastic farmhand who has worked at Mason Farm since Linda was a child. Jim and Louise tend to the farm with little success. With the holidays approaching and things looking bleak on the farm, Jim invites his old performing friends to visit. Uplifted by their presence, he and Louise throw a party to shake their blues away. Jim has discovered that life isn’t the same without a bit of song and dance. So to satisfy his desire to perform and bring in money for the farm Jim and Linda turn the farmhouse into a fabulous Inn that celebrates each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July! Together, they bring life back to the Mason farm by transforming it into the HOLIDAY INN, a lively venue for festive performances celebrating the red letter days on the calendar. Romance and revived showbiz dreams follow.
Major highlights, one in each act, were the high-energy “Shaking the Blues Away,” in which the ensemble tap dances while simultaneously jumping rope, and “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers/Song of Freedom,” with Jonathan Benn triumphantly taking on Astaire’s explosive tap-dance number later teamed up with dancing cast members. These numbers provided the ensemble plenty of opportunities to display their hard work and strut their stuff! The entire production was fast paced and involved many parts moving onstage and backstage. Kudos to the experienced and skilled student production team made up of Tessa Hansknecht, Eleanor Wester and Jonathan Benn. The HOLIDAY INN score featured over 20 classic Berlin songs delivered by a lively orchestra of professional and student musicians. Congratulations to student pit players Dylan Albicker, May Braaten, Carter Cattadoris, Gavin Decker, Olivia Emerson, Caryn Gagnon and Nadia Segall. Worthy of attention in supporting roles are Carter Williams who captures the ambitious, bossy, schmoozer role of talent agent Danny and Bobby Livingston who aptly plays the precocious, blunt yet endearing errand boy, Charlie.
This production delivered a lot of everything! The colorful, witty Hollywood style costumes, the dazzling dancing, the impressive singing and dynamic deliveries all deserved applause and appreciation. This musical was a senior showcase of talent. Notable performances in featured roles were Clara Wheeler, (the charming, ambitious flirt Lila) and Claire Edwards (the tough, humorous, warm hearted matchmaker). The lead performers were all gifted, charming and accomplished in their roles. Jonathan Benn, Ava Hartley and Dalton Sevier are remarkable talents. Each brought vitality and magnetism to their characters and incredible endurance to their musical numbers. Congratulations to this trio of talent. HOLIDAY INN was memorable- a toe tapping, fun loving and feel good time.
Cast members included Dalton Sevier, Jonathan Benn, Clara Wheeler, Ava Hartley, Carter Williams, Bobby Linvingston, Claire Edwards, JP Hoak, Baylee Pierce, Gordon Wester, Dylan Shepard, Megan Lawton, Kate Martellock, Clare Douglas, Vito Borio, Jared Smith, Corinne Albicker, Ethan Coburn, Kali Costello, Jake Decew, Brooke Devendorf, Max Earley, Quinlan Emhoff, Emmalise Enders, Ava Gavitt, Elijah Gebers, Molly Hart, Emily McGee, Bonnie Pittman, Maggie Rowles, Ella Salzman, Maren Smith, Fiona Tobin, Molly Wright and Maddie Young.
Stage Crew members were Ethan Baker, Maysun Barilla, Savannah Barilla, Brady Begley, Tessa Carroll, Iris Casey, Skylar Dannan, Avery Dauenhauer, Regan Dauenhauer, Eoghan Dennisen, Katie Dolan, Allie Everard, Makennah Garrow, Tim Gibbons, Tessa Hanskenect, Cashel Hathaway, Harry Hausser, Amanda heacock, Cassidy Jarvis, Savannah Johnson, Konnor Kelly, Rhys Kelly, Emily Knapp, Willem Light-Olson, Bel Lazarsky, Daniel Lines, Riley Lordon, Claire Marris, Ryan Melvin, Torin Monahan, Cavy Monahan, Gwen O’Brien, Ben Orbach, Maeve Potteiger, Duncan Ryan, Paige Smith, Sam Stehle, Chris Stevens, Mesi Stevens, Isla Stover, Emma Thornton, Eleanor Wester and Mary Williams.
Irving Berlin’s popular music served as a social barometer for much of the 20th century: it marched to war with soldiers, offered hope and inspiration to a nation in bleak times, and rejoiced in the good things embodied in the American way of life.
The High School Drama Club production of HOLIDAY INN played in front of sold out crowds and to standing ovations March 5, 6, and 7 – 2020. Please enjoy photography graciously provided by Mrs. Beth Ann Kempf.