Community and the holiday spirit join together

By Jason Mount

Christmas is coming to campus early with a production of “White Christmas,” running from Nov. 16-20.

Director and Professor of Musical Theater Robin Lewis said the show is about finding one’s “inner Christmas,” as it is centered around a group of four performers who create a show in a Vermont lodge around Christmas time.

The musical will showcase lots of 1950s style singing and dancing as a “throwback to the Hollywood musicals,” said Lewis. The show is also going to include tap dancing routines.

Lewis noted that the production’s themes of love, friendship and community are all important in light of current events in the news.

“It’s about not just taking care of yourself, but taking care of others,” he said. “I think that speaks to what’s happening in our world right now.”

“White Christmas” also hits home as a Christmas tradition for some people.

“‘White Christmas’ has been one of my favorite shows since I was very young; I wanted to be a part of it any way that I could,” junior musical theater major Nicholas Ziobro said.

Ziobro, who plays the character of Bob Wallace, said he looked to the movie and analyzed it several times in preparation for his role. He also looked to Bing Crosby, who plays Bob Wallace in the film adaptation, for inspiration.

“[Bob Wallace] is a Broadway and TV star in the ’50s, who can be a little rough around the edges, but is really a big softie at heart,” Ziobro described. “He is very passionate about what he does and the people around him.”

The production is gearing up to be a holiday extravaganza, and the pressure intensified, as Lewis explained that finding the “old movie style” for choreography and singing proved to be somewhat of a challenge.

“It’s just a huge production,” Lewis said. “This is one of the biggest shows I’ve done here.”

When asked about what he thinks are highlights of the production, Ziobro said, “The cast has been so much fun to work with, and the music is just outstanding. The set and the lighting and dance numbers are all spectacular.”

Lewis said “White Christmas” means a lot to him, too.

“To me, it’s not just about Christmas and the holidays; it’s about love and taking care of each other,” Lewis said. “I find that students have also taken care of each other not just in the show, but in the process as well.”

With the holiday spirit in mind, Ziobro hopes the message of taking care of one another sticks with the audience.

“I think everyone will walk away with a big smile on their face, and hopefully feel obligated to go out and help those in need this holiday season — that’s really what the show is about,” said Ziobro.

Lewis hopes that the audiences realize the theme of community, but also hopes they take away something else.

“I think what I want people to take out of it is the support of the arts here at Rider,” Lewis said. “The arts just need support in general. I want people to say, ‘You know, I want to see another production here at Rider,’ because they’re really good.”

Tickets are available online at rider.edu/arts, over the phone or at the box office. Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and non-Rider students. Preview performance tickets are sold at the door for $9. 

 

Originally printed in the 11/16/16 edition.

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