You can’t have the holidays without Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” a song that was first performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 Hollywood classic “Holiday Inn.”
This weekend, PBS will air the 2016 Tony-nominated Broadway musical version of “Holiday Inn” at 9 p.m. Friday as part of its “Great Performances” television series.
It tells the story of former Broadway star Jim, who leaves his fiancé and dance partner Lila to settle down at an old farmhouse in Connecticut. There, he meets the talented schoolteacher Linda, who helps him transform the farmhouse into a seasonal inn with special performances for every holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July.
Directed by Gordon Greenberg (“Guys and Dolls”) and featuring Tony-nominated choreography by Denis Jones (“Tootsie”), the dazzling production was captured live using 14 high-definition cameras at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54.
Bryce Pinkham plays the Crosby role, while Corbin Bleu plays the Fred Astaire role, alongside Megan Sikora, Lora Lee Gayer, Megan Lawrence and Danny Rutigliano.
The musical recreates the film’s Oscar-winning soundtrack with “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade” and “Holiday Inn,” as well as Berlin standards like “Cheek to Cheek,” “Blue Skies,” “Heat Wave,” “Shaking the Blues Away” and “It’s a Lovely Day Today.”
The 1942 film won the Oscar for Best Original Song (“White Christmas”). It was also nominated for Best Score (Robert Emmett Dolan) and Best Original Story (Berlin).
The film was such a hit that it inspired the 1954 spinoff “White Christmas,” starring Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, all directed by Michael Curtiz.
The American Film Institute ranked “White Christmas” the fifth-best movie song. The Recording Industry Association of America voted it No. 2 on its “Songs of the Century.”
Crosby’s “White Christmas” remains the top-selling single of all time with 50 million copies worldwide, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, not to mention countless covers by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Michael Bolton and Michael Bublé.
“Holiday Inn” was produced on Broadway by Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley.
“Great Performances” is produced by Mitch Owgang, Bill O’Donnell and David Horn.