Pinelands Thespians Performing ‘White Christmas’ in Manahawkin

Dec 05, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

The show must go on! Pinelands Regional High School is closed due to construction problems, but that’s not stopping the Pinelands Thespians from performing “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” this Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 6 through 9, at 7 p.m. plus a matinee on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

They are taking their show on the road and will be presenting it at the Stafford Township Arts Center, located at 1000 McKinley Ave. in Manahawkin, adjacent to the McKinley Avenue Elementary School.

Now, it has been a while since Southern Ocean County has had a white Christmas. Other than disappointing little children, that’s no big deal – the area’s economy is based on summer sun and surf, not snow. But in states like Vermont, a winter without snow is a major kick in the, ah, wallet.

That’s the situation in “White Christmas.” A retired army general, Henry Waverly (Daniel O’Brien), has sunk all of his savings into a Vermont inn, and that’s exactly what that inn is doing – sinking. No snow means no skiing, which means no guests.

Luckily for Waverly, help is on the way in the form of Bob Wallace (Anthony Scarpone) and Phil Davis (Liam McGettigan), a famous song-and-dance duo. Phil has become intrigued by Judy Haynes (Amanda Delbury) after seeing her and her sister Betty’s (Kamryn Barr) act in a nightclub. Phil decides he and Bob should follow them up to Vermont where the sisters will be performing next, at Waverly’s inn to be exact. They go, despite Bob wanting to vacation in warmer climes.

When they arrive, they are shocked to run into Waverly, who had been their commanding general during World War II! So they decide to help him by performing their act at his inn, convinced guests will arrive to see them even without snow once they announce their appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” They also help themselves by working Betty and Judy into their act, something that will help launch the Haynes Sisters’ careers and, hopefully, some romance.

There are quite a number of characters – as in real characters – at the inn.

Martha Watson (Rachel Balko), herself a former Broadway actress, is Waverly’s housekeeper. She has a dry sense of humor and is bighearted but unsentimental and runs the general’s life like a housemother, despite having a soft spot for him.

Susan Waverly (Zinnia Moon), the general’s super-precocious granddaughter, dearly loves her granddaddy. Like just about everybody else in this show, she is stage struck. This is one of the choice roles for young female performers.

Ezekiel Foster (Zachary Hoegler) is the inn’s handyman. He is the ultimate taciturn Vermonter, slow talking and slow moving (think Tom Poston’s George Utley, also a Vermont inn’s handyman, in the “Newhart” TV show from the 1980s).

Rita (Liann Yu) and Rhoda (Nadia Jewel) are Bob and Phil’s star chorus girls. They’re sexy, brash, fun and, well, perhaps not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Mike (Jared Fagan) is Bob and Phil’s stage manager. He can get hysterical, but hey, with all the intrigue at the inn, who wouldn’t be when trying to keep the show together?

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” with a book by David Ives and Paul Blake, is based on the Paramount Pictures 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. But the real star of the show is Irving Berlin’s music and lyrics, with songs such as “Happy Holidays,” “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “Sisters,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and, of course, “White Christmas.”

Tickets for the Pinelands Thespians production are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. They may be purchased online at or at the door.

— Rick Mellerup

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