Broadway’s Sara Edwards returns to ‘White Christmas’ to direct, choreograph

Sara Edwards works through one of the many scenes of 'White Christmas" with the cast at City Springs Theatre.

Credit: Courtesy of City Springs

Credit: Courtesy of City Springs

Sara Edwards works through one of the many scenes of 'White Christmas" with the cast at City Springs Theatre.

This story was originally published by ArtsATL.

No matter what the weather is like in the coming weeks, audiences attending “White Christmas: The Musical” at City Springs Theatre can expect snow.

“It will snow onstage — it will definitely snow!” said director-choreographer Sara Edwards in a recent interview. “We’ve had many conversations about what kind of snow we will use and the rate at which it will fall. It’s musical theater, so we get to control the weather, quite literally.”

The musical, onstage Dec. 8-24, is the adaptation of the classic 1954 holiday film with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, which ran on Broadway from 2008 to 2010. As with the film, it features classic Irving Berlin music and massive production numbers.

The cast of “White Christmas” has taken on the show’s challenges with passion.

Credit: Courtesy of City Springs

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Credit: Courtesy of City Springs

In the story, veterans Bob Wallace (Kyle Robert Carter) and Phil Davis (Julio Rey) — who have become major stars in their post-war life — discover that their beloved General (Brian Kurlander) has opened an inn in Vermont, yet it’s on the verge of bankruptcy. So they work to remount their Broadway hit show at the inn in order to save it. Meanwhile, a struggling sister act — Betty (Kate Fahrner) and Judy (Scarlett Walker) — decides to join them as they stage the show. Fun romantic high jinks, singing and dancing ensue.

Edwards made her Broadway debut as a performer in “White Christmas” and said she is excited to return to the material.

“I’m having an amazing, full-circle moment getting to recreate what [choreographer] Randy Skinner did so beautifully for the Broadway production,” she said. “The orchestrations with this Irving Berlin music! For me, there’s nothing else like it when it comes to holiday shows.”

The City Springs production is a massive challenge, Edwards said.

“To prepare, I dove right into rereading the script for the first time since 2009, when I did it on Broadway,” she said. “And I was actually overwhelmed by how big of a show it is. It’s an epic undertaking.”

The theater has brought in many of the sets and costumes of that original Broadway production.

“It’s beautiful,” Edwards said. “There are so many hand-painted drops. And City Springs, in their shop, is refurbishing everything. There’s even a giant two-car train that rolls out onto the stage.”

City Springs Executive Director Natalie DeLancey and Artistic Director Shuler Hensley want the theater’s musicals to match the quality of national touring productions, Edwards said — which is why they bring in professionals who have a history with these shows, as they also did when actress Baayork Lee directed their production of “A Chorus Line” in 2022.

“It’s like a passing of the torch, in a sense,” she said. “I feel so lucky that I was trusted and gifted with Randy’s choreography. This style is my bread-and-butter and the way I prefer to move. I’m having such a good time with this music.”

The director praised her cast, saying they’ve taken on the challenge of this show’s choreography and scope with a passion.

“The dancers are very sore,” she said with a laugh. “We’re having a blast with it.”

“White Christmas” resonates with audiences to this day because of its warm story, as well as the depth of the characters who still hold memories of the war as they move forward with their lives.

“I think, when we’re in uncertain times, we lean toward nostalgia and things that we know and can understand,” Edwards said. “While the story isn’t so simple in certain ways, there is a beautiful, old-fashioned simplicity to it that people love and go back to. It’s classic. It’s iconic.”

THEATER PREVIEW

“White Christmas: The Musical”

Dec. 8-24. $42-$130. City Springs Theatre Company, Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. 404-477-4365, cityspringstheatre.com.

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Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His plays have been produced at the Vineyard Theatre in Manhattan as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival and at the Center for Puppetry Arts. His novel, Impacted, was published by The Story Plant in 2021.


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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL

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