Monday, November 7, 2016.
When actress Kerry Conte joined the national Broadway tour of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” last year, she had just 10 days to learn all of the musical’s song and dance routines.
No small task, with the show featuring 17 Irving Berlin songs and elaborate tap and cabaret numbers.
“It was trial by fire,” Conte recalls with a laugh. “There was a lot of taking iPhone video (of choreography) and practicing it in my living room.”
The routines will be much easier this year, for her second round of the national tour.
Costarring again in the “White Christmas” tour in the role of Betty Haynes — the brunette half of a dazzling sister act — means a great deal to Conte, who has special connections to the show.
Not only is she a lifelong fan of the 1954 film with Bing Crosby from which the show was adapted, she also went to college with her costar Sean Montgomery. She is even close friends with Kelly Sheehan, playing her sister, who also costarred in last year’s tour.
The cast’s close rapport enhances the show, Conte says, as most scenes focus on the two central couples.
“I think it definitely shows on stage that we’re all friends,” she says.
She also enjoys experiencing the show’s changes from the film, she adds.
While the show tells the same story of two showbiz buddies who follow the sister act to a Vermont inn and put on a show, the theatrical production includes additional Berlin songs, including “I Love a Piano” and “Blue Skies.”
“I feel very blessed to get to sing these songs and pay homage to the people who originated them,” Conte says. “People who know the movie, they love that they can see it live, and we’re also bringing this to a whole new generation.”
Her favorite scenes in the show include the large-scale tap number for “I Love a Piano,” she notes.
“I’m not even in the number,” she says with a laugh. “But I stand on (the side of the) stage and do it with the cast every night.”
The tour’s performances in Las Vegas will be especially meaningful for the actress.
With the show running in town the week of Thanksgiving, her family plans to fly in from New York to spend the holiday with her.
“We’re so excited,” Conte says, adding that they will likely take in a Cirque du Soleil show or two during their visit. “I mean, how often do you get to be in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving?”
The timing will also be ideal for audiences, she says. What better way to kick off the holiday season than a joyful seasonal show?
“I can’t wait to get started. I just love Christmas,” Conte says. “It’s never too early to be singing Christmas songs.”
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” runs from 11/22 – 11/27 at The Smith Center. For tickets and more information, visit: http://www.thesmithcenter.com/event/irving-berlins-white-christmas/.
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