An Interesting Journey to a 'White Christmas':
A show produced by Kevin McCollum and John Gore will follow an interesting road to Broadway, and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is no exception. McCollum produced Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights, and The Drowsy Chaperone. Gore, an original investor in London’s The Phantom of the Opera and Cats, is a director and producer who owns Broadway Across America.
Together they are the heart, head, and soul of the Broadway production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. McCollum would like to see the show lead to making limited-run, full, two-act musicals financially viable. Gore sees the show bringing hope in challenging times.
A Big, Old-Fashioned Musical:
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas debuted in 2004 in San Francisco, and has played in select cities at Christmas since. Audiences and critics have responded enthusiastically.
“We’re about 53 percent recouped,” McCollum said, on an initial $4 million raised.
It’s a big, old-fashioned show, featuring a 33-member cast, dazzling production numbers, and, of course, snowfall. And they got top Broadway talent to bring it along including director Walter Bobbie (Chicago), choreographer Randy Skinner (42nd Street), and David Ives (Is He Dead?) for the book.
More than a Holiday Show:
For the show to have the life producers believe it deserves, they want it to reach beyond the holiday season.
“The goal is to make the show a year-round property,” McCollum said. So, for year-round theaters, the holidays make sense, but companies with summer runs can do a “Christmas in July” show.
And getting to Broadway might help make that a possibility.
When Cry-Baby closed after a short run this summer, with 9 to 5 set to go in next spring, suddenly the 1600-seat Marquis Theatre became available.
“That made Broadway possible,” McCollum said. “We couldn’t afford a Times Square billboard, and it even has a marquee on Broadway.”
Footing the Broadway bill for a limited-run show sent producers after additional partners, and McCollum credits John Gore with helping make White Christmas in New York a reality.
An Eye to the Brand:
Gore is no stranger to marketing unique stage properties. He produced Thunderbirds F.A.B. and Wallace & Gromit in the West End. And he quickly pointed out the benefits not only of the song “White Christmas” as a brand, but the hope it engenders as well.
“Since (the financial crisis of) September, people are looking for hope,” he said. “This song has been a part of people’s lives since World War II.”
Both Gore and McCollum pointed to the importance of being a “Broadway” show for the extended life of the musical on the road.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas features all the songs familiar to fans of the movie. But working with the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, which administers the Irving Berlin catalogue, producers secured rights to additional Berlin songs as well.
And so far, the results have been good.
Originally slated for a 63-show run, November 14 through January 4, demand led producers to add two additional shows.
“In an economic environment where shows are closing or scaling back,” McCollum said, “I think it speaks volumes that we’re adding two performances.”