My Funny Valentine (Stage Thoughts: Holiday Inn, Roundabout Theater Company at Studio 54)

holidayinnAnother “lonely” Valentine’s Day, but I am getting such an old hand at this that I know how to deal with it. At this point in my life, it hardly matters. This year, I am dealing with it by watching Broadway HD’s live performance of ‘Holiday Inn,’ the ‘new’ Irving Berlin musical. This production by the Roundabout Theater Company opened in October 6, 2016, and played until January 15, 2017, presumably to take advantage of the Holday season. Directed by Gordon Greenberg, with a libretto by him and Chad Hodge, the show is based on the 1942 movie starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

I guess I chose to see this today because I think Irvign Berlin wrote some of the most romantic songs of my lifetime, and when hard-pressed, I always say he is my favorite of all the Standards composers. And this show is chock full of them, and they are interpolated int he story nice enough. The show is of the let’s-put-a-show-on-the-barn variety, and in these modern cynical times, I can see how it cannot be accepted with a straight face. But I am an old-fashioned hopeless romantic, so I really appreciated this show, even as the ‘critic’ in me acknowledges it creaky book. However, you cannot doubt the fantastic performances here, starting with Bryce Pinkham as Jim Hardy. Linda Mason exuded nice leading lady charm, but I was most impressed by Corbin Bleu, who I know was in the High School Musical series. He dances with great flair, and has that rare ‘star quality.’ Denis Jones’ choreography is fantastic, with its old fashioned charm, and I know some critic complained that there were too many tap numbers here. I didn’t mind, and even said bring it on!

To make things topical, the show pairs one of my favorite Berlin numbers, ‘Be Careful It’s My Heart,’ with today’s holiday, and it’s a moist match. Yes, we can shunt he romance because we have to sometimes, but we can also embrace it, and for one brief song moment tonight, I felt in love – with the scene, with the song, with the holiday. The show brought that to me, and it made that moment for me a funny valentine.

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