Theatre makes ?White Christmas? dreams come true

Megan Schiferl

Megan SchiferlJuice Editor

Visions of sugarplums, an end to finals week and a white Christmas are just a few of the things students are dreaming of this time of year. Though no one really knows what a sugarplum is and it is difficult to make finals week end any sooner, the State University Theatre at SDSU can provide a white Christmas for campus.

This year SUT will perform Irving Berlin’s classic Christmas musical White Christmas Dec. 1-5 with performances every night at 7:30 p.m., as well as 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 4 and 5.

The story centers around two veterans of World War II. These veterans, Bill Davis and Bob Wallace, set out to become a famous duo on the entertainment circuit.

In a ski lodge in Vermont, they meet up with a sister act duo, the Haynes. Singing, dancing and classic songs intertwine to create a show that has been a classic since its film release in 1954 and Broadway release in 2004.

Gaining rights to perform a musical with as much notoriety as White Christmas can claim was not an easy task. According to Kameron Nelson, a junior communication studies, theatre student and member of the male ensemble in the show, the original producers and play writes of a show have to grant permission for a show to be performed anywhere.

“The company that owns the show has to give rights for an acting company to put on the show,” Nelson said.

Nelson also said that it is unusual for college campus companies to be able to produce a show of this magnitude and renown, especially one that is still currently in production elsewhere.

“White Christmas is still on the Broadway circuit, but we’re far enough away in the Midwest to produce the show,” Nelson said. “Rights were hard to get.”

Billy Wilburn, assistant professor of theatre and costume and staging designer for White Christmas, claims the show is huge, from a costuming and staging standpoint.

“This is the largest show I’ve ever worked on,” Wilburn said. “There are about 172 costumes [in White Christmas] and in a normal musical there are 100-115 costumes.”

Wilburn claims that though the show is exceptionally large, it was not any more stressful than a smaller production.

“We had a lot of prep time and we knew the show would be really big, so by the time school began we had a lot of ideas and could get started right away,” Wilburn said.

Wilburn also claimed that the staging for the performances will be phenomenal.

“The set utilizes every fly line and rolling unit, and it even snows on stage,” Wilburn said.

In addition to being one of the larger shows SDSU’s SUT has produced recently, this show will also be the last directed by Raymond Peterson, assistant professor for communication studies and theatre.

This is Peterson’s 40th year at SDSU. He has directed and worked on many productions throughout the years.

“I stopped counting shows I’d worked with as a designer at well over 200,” Peterson said. “My first show was Oklahoma back in 1974, which I directed for Prairie Repertory Theatre.”

Peterson was responsible for procuring the rights to be able to produce this show.

“Usually a new piece [like White Christmas] is kept at a professional status for a time,” Peterson said. “We were one of the very first companies to be offered rights to do it.”

Peterson and the knowledge he posses will be sorely missed when he leaves SDSU.

“I don’t know how we are going to replace him,” Wilburn said.

Jake Windish, a senior theatre student who has been working with Peterson for the past five years, said that Peterson gives a special feel to each production he directs.

“It’s been a fantastic experience working with him. He always does big flashy musicals and it’s always an adventure,” Windish said. “His life is theatre and it shows with how much dedication he puts into each production.”

White Christmas will run for one week and it is the last show SUT will present this semester. The next show will be the student variety show Capers, which will be holding auditions in the Performing Arts Center Dec. 11, at 12:00 p.m. Auditions are open call for anyone and everyone.