“Holiday Inn” has a slight but loveable story and enough classic stage musical muscle to make it a pleasure to watch. It has costumes, costumes and more costumes. The choreography is inventive, yet boldly traditional. There’s a number with three dancers and a skip rope that’s worth the price of a ticket. The Muny orchestra augmented by lots of strings is magnificent.
Patti Murin and Colin Donnell headline as an unlikely couple fighting off love. Set in 1946, Donnell is a night club entertainer who longs for life on the farm, so much so he buys a home and some acreage at a foreclosure auction in Connecticut to begin a life under the sun instead of the footlights. Murin is the school teacher daughter of the distressed property’s former owner who grew up on the farm and can sing & dance.
When Donnell’s character is pushed to the limit financially, he gets the idea to turn the old homestead and its 15 bedrooms into a lodge that’s only open on the holidays and features song & dance shows. Are you starting to see how this is going to unfold?
Yes, it’s just like the movie, only with some additional songs added.
“Holiday Inn” exists primarily as a vehicle for the landmark music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. It is also a simply wonderful reason to string together spirited and challenging dance numbers. Noah Racey plays Ted Hanover, the role made famous by Fred Astaire, and he is well matched to the role in dance and performing personality. Murin and Donnell as a budding couple are sweethearts to watch. They are both top talents and are ideal for The Muny stage.
There were too many audio gremlins on opening night, plus one very late entrance in Act II that became an exercise in adlibbing. A main set piece that is supposed to be the interior of the main farm house was large and grayish in many scenes. It resembled the inside of an abandoned urban structure more than a rustic home. The height of that set piece also made the Muny’s light bar mostly ineffective. But “Holiday Inn” has so much innocent charm in its concept and performance that it radiates a kind of warmth and familiarity audiences can eat up with a spoon. And then there’s the music, and the dancing, and the costumes……..nice.