On September 1, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical begins previews at Studio 54. The title itself should tell you that the show is a fascinating combination of old and new. Yes, this is a brand new musical, but yes, it also has a score by none other than the great Irving Berlin, who did most of his songwriting in the first half of the 20th century. So how did these classic and brand-new elements come together in this way?
Holiday Inn originated as a musical film in 1942, and, importantly, the movie would have significance beyond its huge box office success. The attack on Pearl Harbor came in the middle of shooting, and the film would be released to an American public coming to terms with a world at war. In many ways, Holiday Inn became a tonic for these difficult times, offering an escape from the serious cares of life through song and dance that celebrated the best days of the year, the holidays in which we all come together with loved ones. In fact, the biggest hit from Berlin’s score was “White Christmas,” a song with the simplest of melodies and lyrics, which resonated deeply with a public thinking about their sons fighting abroad, yearning for a holiday at home “just like the ones I used to know.”
Today, with the advantage of more than 70 years of distance, we are able to look at Holiday Inn with new eyes. While fans of the original film will see their favorite moments and hear their favorite songs, writers Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge have updated the story and humor for today’s audiences, with the added bonus of including even more Irving Berlin classic songs, from “Blue Skies” to “Cheek to Cheek.” And as you’re tapping your toes at this joyful production, I hope you’ll see that the piece still provides that same tonic it was for moviegoers back in 1942. With high spirits and romance to spare, Holiday Inn does something that musicals do better than perhaps any other form – they bring a smile to our face and allow us to forget reality, even for just a couple of hours.
I know you will have a wonderful time taking a trip with us to Holiday Inn, rejoicing in the high-energy song and dance and relishing the story of love and friendship at its heart. As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts, so please continue to email me throughout this 50th Anniversary season at email@example.com. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, Holiday Inn