By Chris Heide
Keeping in tradition with their annual holiday show, the 5th Avenue Theatre recently debuted their version of Irving Berlin's’ Holiday Inn. It is a lush, nostalgic, classic show that harkens back to the day’s of classic Broadway.
The modern world of musical theater has had two distinct paths in recent years. One path is the revival of and appreciation for classic musical theater- shows that “feel” distinctly like musical theater. The other path, which is becoming more and more popular, has given rise to more lavish and bombastic examples of musical theater. WIcked, Book of Mormon and Hamilton are just a few examples of the more popularized shows- shows that strive to achieve success both commercially and critically, while appealing to a younger generation.
Holiday Inn falls directly into that first category. It’s a lovely and stylized stage version of the popular film of the same name. Unlike Wicked of The Bodyguard, Holiday Inn lacks any “big diva” moments or emotionally wrought power ballads, that have become increasingly common in recent years. While those moments can help the emotional effectiveness and connectivity of a show, they are not requirements of quality musical theater.
Holiday Inn is exactly what you’d hope it would be. Feel-good, family friendly, and brilliantly directed. As has become standard for the 5th Avenue Theatre, the choreography (especially the multiple tap numbers) were top notch. THe show is also well cast and features a plethora of Seattle based heavy hitters including, Eric Ankrim, Taryn Darr, Sarah Rose Davis and Matt Owen. Notably, Ankrim and Davis had much better chemistry than did Owen and Darr, something that was significantly noticeable throughout the show. In fact, Owen and Darr stumbled their way through choreography during an early number n the first act. Despite this minor mishap, the pair rebounded quickly for the remainder of the show.
The true scene stealer of Holiday Inn was Lorna Luft, daughter of legend Judy Garland and sister to Liza Minelli. Impressively, Loft sounds just like her mother when she sings, as well as she possessed impeccable comedic timing. The talent apple did not fall far from the tree in that family.
Overall, Holiday Inn is thoroughly enjoyable. Apart from a few minor opening night jitters, it is easy to predict that the show will be another resounding success for the 5th Avenue Theatre.