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study guide




yracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 30,000 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, Backstory performances, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our community. Children’s Tour Naming Sponsor

ArtsEmerging Sponsor

John Ben Snow Foundation, Inc. Student Matinee Sponsor

General Education Sponsors

Lori Pasqualino as “Annabel” in the 2010 Bank of America Children’s Tour: Annabel Drudge... and the Second Day of School. Photo by Michael Davis

Content collection and portions written by Len Fonte Layout design and portions written by Michelle Scully

Timothy Bond

Producing Artistic Director

Syracuse Stage and SU Drama

820 E Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210


Director of Educational Outreach

Lauren Unbekant (315) 443-1150

Manager of Educational Outreach

Michelle Scully (315) 442-7755

Group Sales & Student Matinees

Tracey White (315) 443-9844

Box Office


4. Production Information 5. Introduction 6. Teaching Theatre

8. Letter from the Director 9. Content and Culture 12. Context and Discussion 16. In the Classroom 18. Sources and Resources 19. Syracuse Stage Season 2012-13

(315) 443-3275

Syracuse Stage is a global village square where renowned artists and audiences of all ages gather to celebrate our cultural richness, witness the many truths of our common humanity, and explore the transformative power of live theatre. Celebrating our 40th season as the professional theatre in residence at Syracuse University, we create innovative, adventurous, and entertaining productions of new plays, classics and musicals, and offer interactive education and outreach programs to Central New York.

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH AT SYRACUSE STAGE The Bank of America CHILDREN’S TOUR brings high-energy, interactive, and culturally diverse performances to elementary school audiences. The BACKSTORY Program brings history to life as professional actors portray historical figures in classrooms and other venues. ArtsEMERGING takes students on an in-depth exploration of one mainstage season production using a multi-cultural, multi-arts lens. The YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL challenges students to submit original ten-minute plays for a chance to see their work performed at Syracuse Stage. The STUDENT MATINEE SERIES provides student with the opportunity for a rich theatrical experience as part of our audience.


Based on the Paramount Pictures film Music and Lyrics by

Irving Berlin Book by

David Ives and Paul Blake Directed by

Paul Barnes Musical Direction by

Christopher Drobny Choreography by

David Wanstreet

The title song alone is a celebration and a reminder of a time when the simplest pleasures mattered most and having a big heart was genuinely considered a virtue. Two successful showmen join forces to help out their old army commander. Along the way they find, lose, and find romance, have plenty of laughs, and demonstrate what it means to be loyal. The score is filled with favorites-“Happy Holiday,” “Sisters,” “Blue Skies,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” -- and the choreography calls for plenty of tap. Winter may not deliver a White Christmas, but director Paul Barnes and a talented cast sure will. SYRACUSE STAGE White Christmas STUDENT STUDY GUIDE



Welcome! As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live

theatre we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictability. With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance!

A few reminders... BE PROMPT

Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins!


Etiquette Audience

Please remind your students that their behavior and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cellphones should be switched completely off. No texting or tweeting, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded the best performance possible.


Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc).


Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.



teaching theatre

Most (but not all) plays begin with a script — a story to be told and a blueprint of how to tell it. In his famous treatise, The Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle outlined six

Elements Drama of

that playwrights are mindful of to this day:

Plot What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What does each character want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/ lose? Theme

What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion?


Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How does ages/status/etc. affect them?

Language Music

What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do they say it?

How do music and sound help to tell the story?


What visual elements support the play? This could include: puppets, scenery, costumes, dance, movement, and more. Other Elements: Conict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern & Repetition, Emotion, Point of view.

ACTIVITY At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with others. Give them an objective to fulfill despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their characters and the pursuit of their objectives.

Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this production with your students, examine the use of:



How are each of these art forms used in this production? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?



teaching theatre

Most plays utilize designers to create the visual world of the play through scenery, costumes, lighting, and more. These artists use

Elements Design of

to communicate information about the world within the play and its characters.

LINE can have length, width,

texture, direction and curve. There are 5 basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zigzag. is two-dimensional and encloses space. It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or free-form.


FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.


has three basic properties: HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.


SPACE is de-

fined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.

refers to the “feel” of an object’s surface. It can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).


Have students discuss these elements BEFORE attending the performance and ask them to pay special attention to how these elements are used in the production’s design. Whether your students are observing a piece of visual art (painting, sculpture, photograph) or a piece of performance art (play, dance), allow them first to notice the basic elements, then encourage them to look deeper into why these elements are used the way they are.



a letter from the education director

Dear Educator, Live theatre is a place for people to gather and experience the joys, triumphs, and sorrows life has to offer through a shared experience. The Syracuse Stage Education Department is committed to providing the tools to make learning in and through the arts possible, to address varied learning styles and make connections to curriculum and life itself. It is our goal in the education department to maximize the theatre experience for our education partners with experiential learning and in-depth arts programming. Thank you for your interest and support!


Lauren Unbekant Director of Educational Outreach



about the authors

“There’s no such thing as a new melody. Our work is to connect the old phrases in a new way, so they will sound like a new tune. Do you know that the public, when it hears a new song, anticipates the next line? Well, the writers who do not give them something they are expecting are those who are successful.”

(composer and lyricist) Israel Baline was born in Temun, Siberia in 1888. The son of a cantor and the youngest of six children, he would eventually become Irving Berlin, the greatest American songwriter of all time. In 1893, his family escaped the pogroms, sailed out of the Black Sea and settled on the Lower East Side in New York City. He recalls, “There were ten of us in four rooms, and in the summer some of us slept on the fire escape. I was a boy with poor parents, but I didn’t starve; I wasn’t cold or hungry.” When Israel was eight, his father died. By the time he was 14, Berlin had struck out on his own to avoid being a burden to his mother. He became a singing waiter in a saloon. When the saloon was empty, he taught himself the piano and became a song plugger for a leading composer and publisher. In 1907, encouraged by the saloon owner, he published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy.” It was at this time that his name changed from Israel Baline to Irving Berlin, due to a misspelled credit. By 1911, Berlin was a successful music publisher and writer of more than 50 songs. His first major hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” started a dance craze--ragtime--and paved the way for the popular acceptance of jazz. By the 1930’s it was hard to turn on the radio and not hear a song by Irving Berlin. During World War I, Berlin was conscripted into the army. On the assumption that he had more skill in music than in weapons, he was asked to put together a show to raise money for the construction of a visitors center at his camp. Yip, Yap, Yaphank featured a skinny Berlin in tight leggings and a huge campaign hat that threatened to unbalance him, singing “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” in a weak, wavering voice.

Despite the miles between his camp and New York City, he had conquered New York without having to fire a shot. As musical theater moved from European-style operettas to musical comedies, revues became very popular, and Berlin was a major contributor. In 1919, he created “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” for the Ziegfeld Follies. The song became the unofficial theme song for all follies, and Berlin’s Broadway career was on its way. In 1945, Berlin took over the role of composer and lyricist for the Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun” after the death of composer Jerome Kern. Starring Ethel Merman, the show was a smash hit, and Annie’s anthem, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” became both a legend and a hit. Berlin composed music and lyrics for many of the most memorable movie musicals of the 20’s and 30’s, including the first feature length talkie, The Jazz Singer which featured the classic “Blue Skies.” Irving Berlin died on September 22, 1989. He was 101 years old. *

David Ives (Book) is best known for his eve- Paul Blake ning of one- act plays, All In the Timing. The prolific Ives has become a major force in American theater. His plays include New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch Spinosa, Polish Joke, Ancient History, and the recent Broadway hit Venus in Fur. He has translated Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear, Corneillie’s The Liar, Moliere’s The Misanthrope, and has adapted Mark Twain’s Is He Dead?. He has written three young-adult novels, Monsieur Eek, Scrib, and Voss. David Ives lives in New York City.

(Book ) is currently execu-

tive producer of The Muny in St. Louis, where he produced, directed and wrote the world premieres of Sleeping Beauty with songs by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and P.G. Wodehouse, Three Coins in the Fountain with songs by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, Breakfast at Tiffany’s with songs by Johnny Mercer, and Roman Holiday with songs by Cole Porter.



about the musical

I’m Dreaming of a . . . The 1942 film Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, introduced “White Christmas,” one of the most recorded songs in history. Sung by Bing Crosby, “White Christmas” sold over 50 million records, becoming the best selling world wide single of all time. “White Christmas” earned Holiday Inn an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Over 100 million copies of the many different versions of “White Christmas” placed it in the Guiness Book of World Records 2009. Richard Corliss, writer for Time magazine, notes the significance of the song was amplified when it was released soon after America entered World War II: “[White Christmas] connected with . . . GIs in their first winter away from home. To them it voiced the ache they felt for the girl back home, for the innocence of youth. *

. . . White Christmas

The song “White Christmas” proved so popular that in 1954 Paramount Studios produced a film based on the song. Conceived as a very loose re-make of Holiday Inn, it was to be used as a vehicle for Crosby and Fred Astaire, but Astaire bowed out after reading the script. Donald O’Connor was next in line for the dancing role, but he was sidelined by an injury, leaving the role to Paramount mainstay Danny Kaye. Popular recording artist Rosemary Clooney (aunt of George Clooney) was cast as “Betty”. “Judy” was played by pert dancer Vera Ellen, whose songs were dubbed. With a score consisting of new songs and gems from the Irving Berlin catalogue, White Christmas went on to be the year’s top grossing film.

White Christmas On Stage The stage musical White Christmas premiered in San Francisco in 2004. Beginning in 2006, it played a variety of venues in the United States, including Boston, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Louisville. White Christmas played a limited engagement on Broadway at the Marquis Theater. Previews began on November 14, 2008. The production ran for a total of 53 performances. The stage version also saw success overseas, touring the United Kingdom and Australia. A second Broadway production played the 2009 holiday season. SYRACUSE STAGE White Christmas STUDENT STUDY GUIDE


context & content

Synopsis The show opens in 1944, somewhere on the Western Front of World War II. Captain Bob Wallace and Private Phil Davis are providing holiday entertainment to their Division. Their commanding officer, General Henry Waverly, arrives and abruptly ends the show. The story jumps ten years forward to 1954. The war has ended and Bob and Phil have made it big. They are performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. They’re heading to Florida for Christmas to enjoy fun in the sun while they do a preview of their new revue.

Pine Tree, Vermont is having an abnormal winter. There is no snow! Upon arriving at the Columbia Inn, where Betty and Judy are performing, Bob and Phil are shocked to find that their old general, Henry Waverly, owns the struggling inn. He is about to go bankrupt, having depleted his savings and pension on his dream.

Bob and Phil decide to do their revue at the inn to help drum up some business. Bob knows the soldiers under the General’s command really appreciated and respected his leadership during the war. He calls Ralph Sheldrake, an old army buddy, A letter from an old army who works for The Ed Sullivan buddy leads Bob and Phil to Show. Bob wants to make a “Jimmy’s Back Room”, a less- pitch on the show to all the vetthan-stellar nightclub, to see erans of the 151st Division to Betty and Judy Haynes perform come to Vermont for the show before they catch their train to on Christmas Eve. He hopes to Miami. Phil, being the charmer keep the troops’ arrival a secret that he is, invites the girls to until the show. join them after the show for a drink. The sisters say they’re Sheldrake leaves a message at going to Vermont for Christmas the inn with the housekeeper, to perform a holiday show at a Martha, to let Bob know that struggling inn. the plan is underway. Martha misinterprets the message and Sparks fly - romance blooms tells Betty that Bob and Phil for Phil and Judy, and Bob and are trying to take over the Inn. Betty have a strong disagreeBetty is furious and leaves for ment. Knowing that Bob needs a job at the Regency Club in a female presence in his life New York. (and being taken with Judy), Phil decides to secretly change The General recognizes that their vacation plans. Soon, Betty and Bob have fallen they are on the same train to in love while rehearsing the Vermont as Judy and Betty. It’s Christmas revue. Although no not surprising that Bob is angry one knows why Betty has left, with Phil for changing their he encourages Bob to go after holiday plans. her. SYRACUSE STAGE White Christmas STUDENT STUDY GUIDE

Bob goes to see Betty perform her solo act. He’s arranged for Ralph to come and see her in hopes he can give her a gig on the Ed Sullivan Show. After the show, Bob introduces Ralph to Betty and then returns to the Inn. Ralph clears up the misunderstanding, and Betty realizes she has made an error. Betty returns to the Inn just in time for the performance. *

Major Characters Bob Wallace -- a major

singing star, Bob is the guiding force behind the song and dance team of Wallace and Davis.

Phil Davis -- Bob’s fun-

loving, go-getting song and dance partner.

Betty Haynes -- The sen-

sible, responsible half of the upcoming song-and-dance team, The Haynes Sisters. Judy Haynes-- the younger, more ambitious, slightly scheming Haynes Sister.

General Henry Waverly -- a retired U.S. Army General, adjusting to civilian life in post- World War II America. Once a powerful leader, he now struggles to run an inn in Vermont.

Martha Watson -- Once

a Broadway star, now the general’s housekeeper at the Inn.

Susan Waverly -- The general’s nine-year-old granddaughter.


hite Christmas’s singing and dancing Haynes Sisters represent a mainstay of American entertainment from the time of vaudeville. With the rise of radio, movies, and television, several sets of siblings captured the nation’s imagination. The hands-down champs of the genre were the 40’s stars the Andrew Sisters, with wartime hits such as “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “ Rum and Coca Cola,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”


context & discussion


The Fifties saw television and radio favorites, the McGuire Sisters and the sweet-voiced Lennon Sisters who were regulars on the Lawrence Welk Show. By the end of the Sixties, the sister act was virtually dead, overtaken by the shift towards rock and R&B non-related girl groups.

“A really big shew”

In 1948, newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan began hosting a variety show on the fledgling CBS television network. At first called Toast of the Town, the Sunday night show quickly took off in the ratings. As The Ed Sullivan Show, the Sunday night variety show became an American institution. Sullivan’s own stiff performance, odd diction (“Tonight we have a a really big shew for you”), and mangling of performers’ names became standard targets for impressionists. The Ed Sullivan Show was a mixture of every type of entertainment. Broadway stars, hot comedians, and operatic divas shared the stage with acrobats, jugglers, and ventriloquists. In the 1960s, a frequent guest was a puppet mouse called Topo Gigio, who is (anachronistically) referred to in White Christmas. Sullivan was one of the first to realize the power of youth culture on TV and his shows with Elvis and the Beatles are legendary. After 23 years, The Ed Sullivan Show left the air in 1971. In the 1955 film White Christmas, Bob and Phil make an appearance on the “Ed Harrison” TV show. In the stage production, the act will be shown on The Ed Sullivan Show. White Christmas isn’t the only musical using an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show as part of the plot. The 1960 Broadway hit Bye Bye Birdie uses a fictionalized version of an Elvis appearance on the show as its jumping off point. Sullivan himself even appears in the film version. SYRACUSE STAGE White Christmas STUDENT STUDY GUIDE

The Ed Sullivan Show


context & discussion


The following information provides background, definition, or explanation of specific references in the musical that may be unfamiliar. Crocodile tears -- an insincere display of emotion, such as crying fake tears of grief. It comes from an ancient anecdote that crocodiles weep in order to lure their prey. Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965) -- American journalist known for her syndicated newspaper column, The Voice of Broadway and her role as panelist on the television game show What’s My Line? Josè Jimenez a.k.a. Bill Dana (born October , 1924) -- American comedian, actor, and screenwriter who often appeared on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, frequently in the guise of a heavily-accented Mexican character named Josè Jimenez. In 1970, with the understanding that ethnic humor was no longer acceptable, Dana retired Josè Jiminez. The reference in White Christmas is anachronistic. Dana debuted the character in 1959. Kate Smith (1907-1986) -- American singer best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”. Smith had a radio, television, and recording career spanning five decades. Ethel Merman (1908-1984) -- American actress and singer known primarily for her powerful voice and roles. Among the many standards introduced by Merman in Broadway musicals are “I Got Rhythm,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” and Irving Berlin’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Oxydol -- the name of a laundry detergent sold in the U.S. and the U.K. In the 1930’s Oxydol was the sponsor of the Ma Perkins Radio Show, considered the first soap opera due to its association with the soap product. Senor Wences -- Wenceslao Moreno (1896-1999) was a spanish ventriloquist whose popularity grew with his frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. spinet -- a smaller type of harpsichord, a keyboard instrument similar to a piano. However, while hammers in a piano strike the strings, the strings in a harpsichord are plucked. “Swanee shore” -- part of the lyric for the Gershwin song “Swanee” made popular by Al Jolson. Topo Gigio -- the lead character of a children’s puppet show on Italian and Spanish television shows in the early 1960s, an adorable mouse which charmed North American audiences by his antics on The Ed Sullivan Show. Again, the reference in White Christmas is anachronistic.

Projects and Activities r seasonal o y a d li o h Writing a ng or poem so eday Inn preai l o H l a n i The orig gs that heralded s m sented sonholidays. Brainstor d sons and d phrases associate m words an easons and use the r with the sor lyrics of songs o gs as titles express the feelin t poems thaed by the seasons. evok

Film to sta


It is not u be adapte nusual for a hit pla and more, d for the screen. My to are being however, classic fi ore ductions. adapted as stage p lms Christmas View the 1954 W rostage prod on DVD. Compa hite of the cha uction. What are sre the o n move fromges necessary in thme e screen to stage?


The great shift in pop music The stage version of White Christmas lovingly recreates the post-war world of the 1954 film, which existed on the edge of a shift in popular music. Research and the events and steps that drove this shift. Possible subtopics include Elvis Presley, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the Beatles. 13

sources and resources

TEACHING THEATRE/ARTS TheatreTeachers.com http://www.theatreteachers.com/ ArtsWork.com http://artswork.asu.edu/ ChildDrama.com http://www.childdrama.com/lessons.html Educational Theatre Association http://schooltheatre.org/ Kennedy Center http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/lessons.aspx Viola Spolin http://www.spolin.com/ Princeton Online Art Lesson Plans http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/Files/elements.htm

SOURCES AND ONLINE RESOURCES *Portions adapted with permission from the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s study guide by Reid Harrison http://www.mtc.mb.ca/PDFs/Outreach/Study-Guides-2010-11/MTC-White-Christmas-StudyGuide.aspx http://parlorsongs.com/bios/berlin/iberlin.php http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Berlin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Christmas_%28musical%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Christmas_%28film%29 http://www.whitechristmasthemusical.com/intro.html http://www.michaelgnaylor.com/BroadwayStudyGuides/wc/whitechristmas.html



Bring the whole family to

at Syracuse Stage 820 E. Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210

Saturday, December 1 - Noon & Saturday, December 8 - Noon All tickets $8 Box Office: 315.443.3275 A Thousand Cranes is the moving true story about the effects of war on the life a 12-year-old Japanese girl named Sadako, and how, through her spirit of hope and determination, she became an inspiration for generations to come. With an eye toward the future, this year’s production of A Thousand Cranes will incorporate recent events in Japan and connect them to the spirit of Sadako and her message of hope. Performed in striking visual terms with puppetry and scenery, A Thousand Cranes offers an extraordinary opportunity to share a culturally rich theatrical experience with your students. The director, designers, performers, and production crew are students and professionals from Syracuse University Department of Drama and Syracuse Stage.

Profile for Syracuse Stage

White Christmas  

White Christmas Study Guide 2012

White Christmas  

White Christmas Study Guide 2012

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