This musical adaptation of the classic movie has a firm grip on character and themes, but it’s a bit loosey-goosey when it comes to weaving a coherent plot. And it is so not a big deal: Holiday Inn combines Irving Berlin songs with heart and smarts, and that alone makes me happy. The various plot holes are a minor annoyance, at worst.
Like the film, the musical tells the story of Jim (Bryce Pinkham), who leaves his little corner of show business – a small club in Flatbush – to settle down at a farmhouse in Connecticut. Jim meets Linda (Lora Lee Gayer), who inspires him to bring a little bit of show biz to the farm, by turning it into an inn specializing in holiday getaways, with spectacular live entertainment.
In the film, Linda is just as much a creature of show biz as Jim is. Here, director and bookwriter Gordon Greenberg, has made her a talented woman who is actually a bit reluctant to take the stage, which is a little richer, emotionally speaking. On the directing end, Greenberg imparts an elegant briskness to the evening as a whole – and scores some points for finding real emotion in many moments. Overall, this is a show with a lot of great moments, that don’t always connect together well.
More glow emanates from the warm chemistry between Pinkham and Gayer. Corbin Bleu adds great energy and athleticism as Jim’s sometime double act partner Ted. As reimagined properties by Great American Songbook writers go, this one’s slightly above average, and definitely diverting. Recommended.
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To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.