It looks a lot like a ‘White Christmas’ at Issaquah High

December 3, 2013

By Neil Pierson

For the cast and crew putting the final touches on this month’s “White Christmas” musical at Issaquah High School, one of the most enjoyable parts is creating a performance that can be enjoyed by all age groups.

“The thing that makes it so engaging for so many people is everybody knows these songs,” said Holly Whiting, who’s directing her ninth musical at IHS. “These songs are old enough that every generation that’s going to be attending this program is going to be familiar with the music.

By Neil Pierson Issaquah High School drama students (from left) Caroline Hamblin, Kylie Fletcher and Ashley Young, rehearse a scene from ‘White Christmas.’

By Neil Pierson
Issaquah High School drama students (from left) Caroline Hamblin, Kylie Fletcher and Ashley Young, rehearse a scene from ‘White Christmas.’

“And I think we all have pretty good, happy memories attached to a lot of these songs.”

Caroline Hamblin, a senior who plays one of the lead roles in the adaptation of the 1954 classic featuring Bing Crosby and the music of Irving Berlin, has similar feelings.

“It’s really fun, and it’s really bright and lively,” Hamblin said. “It’s not boring at all. It’s Christmastime, so it’s perfect, and it’s a really family-friendly show, so bring all your kids and come see it.”

“White Christmas” is the story of two Army buddies, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who serve together in World War II. They return home and begin working in the entertainment industry, and they meet two sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes.

Hamblin, who plays Judy, is the polar opposite of Betty, played by fellow senior Ashley Young.

“Judy is the fun, flirty sister,” Hamblin said. “She’s into boys, and she tries to set Bob and Betty up. Phil and Judy just hit it off right away, even though they’re kind of dramatic and flirty with other people, too. But in the end, they just love each other.”

If you go

Issaquah High School’s production of ‘White Christmas’
7 p.m. Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 12-14
A matinee ‘sing-along’ is at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 7.
Issaquah High School auditorium
700 Second Ave. S.E.
Tickets are $12 for adults and students with Associated Student Body cards; $10 for students without ASB cards; $8 for seniors and children younger than 5; $5 for general admission to the sing-along
Get tickets online at http://bit.ly/IHSplay.

Young’s character is more serious, she explained, having lost her faith in men because of their lack of respect for her.

“She just wants to find someone that’s reliable,” Young said. “Then Bob comes along, and obviously they fall in love, and at first, it’s like she doesn’t trust him fully, but then as the show goes on, she gains more trust.”

Bryan Hanner, a junior who plays Wallace, believes the highlight of the production is Berlin’s music, which comes from a variety of films.

“It’s centered around a comedic background, so there’s a lot of laughter-filled moments,” Hanner said.

Hanner is the show’s most experienced performer; he’s been in 60 shows since he starting acting at age 3 with the Bellevue Civic Theatre. He’s worked with various troupes in the Seattle area, going on a national tour with “Peter Pan” and an international tour with “The Sound of Music.”

“My mom kind of wanted me to get out of my box, and she thought I was shy, so she took me to my first show,” Hanner said of his background. “After my first show, I asked when the next one was. After that, I just haven’t really stopped being involved.”

Sophomore Daniel Repp is also a veteran performer, having done 23 shows between Issaquah High, Village Theatre, and Youth Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island. Repp plays Davis, and said his character complements Hanner’s.

“Phil is the fun, laid-back one – somewhat irresponsible,” Repp said.

Whiting calls the musical “an all-court press with the performing arts department” at Issaquah High. The cast includes about 30 drama students, while music teachers Barbara Irish and Doug Longman have taken charge of a 60-piece orchestra.

Much of the cast has worked together before, Whiting said, and that has created chemistry for “White Christmas.”

“They harmonize beautifully together, and they have a real natural rapport with each other,” Whiting said.

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