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Editorial: A 'White Christmas,' on stage and off

It was a case of life imitating art on Saturday night as people filtered out of the Perham High School auditorium.

Fresh out of the final scene of this year's community musical, "White Christmas," we all left the theater to find the real-life version of what we had just witnessed on stage - fresh white snow falling.

And I, for one, was just as happy to see that real snow, as the glowing characters in the show had been to see theirs.

After weeks of waiting and wondering, "Will it be a 'white Christmas' for us here in Perham?," lo and behold, our question was answered.

And on the opening night of "White Christmas," no less.

A good half-inch or so was already on the ground as we found our way to our cold cars and headed out to our next destinations. For me, it was home to cuddle on the couch in front of a warm fire, hot buttered rum in hand.

For the rest of the evening, visions of "White Christmas" danced in my head.

The show has long been a holiday favorite of mine. The classic movie, starring my songstress role model, Rosemary Clooney, and a swoonworthy Bing Crosby, doesn't gather much dust on my DVD shelf. It's a 'must-see' at every Christmas, and at Christmas in July, and at pretty much any other time I want some guaranteed film-watching fun.

The Perham High School version had all the funny moments, glamorous costumes and great songs from the movie - plus a few new surprises.

Some characters that have little screen time in the film are given more lines and depth in this stage version. Little Lily Lorenson, for example, nearly steals the show with her solo as Susan Waverly, the general's granddaughter. The 10-year-old budding actress had no fear, singing with gusto. And Chris Knutson showed great stage presence and comedic timing in his roles as club owner and director - characters that were written just for the stage version.

Other scenes looked like they jumped right off my DVD and into the Perham auditorium. When real-life sisters Rachel and Olivia Nelson sing "Sisters," they dance with big-feathered fans just like the gals on the silver screen. And the final number (without giving too much away) will look very familiar to fans of the film.

The Nelson sisters, by the way, have golden voices. Rachel's solo number in the second act gives her a chance to shine.

The two male leads, Christian Bueng and Mark Murphy, play off each other well in their 'playboy' versus 'lonely boy' roles. And the two adult community members in the play, Chuck Johnson and Ann Heines, give skilled performances.

But this isn't meant to be a review. It's meant to be a show of support for community theater.

This production is big, from the glittering costumes to the ambitious sets to the lavish musical numbers. At a length of about three hours, and with a cast of 50, it's certainly no easy feat to put on. Yet the high school took the challenge and ran with it, and for this I give them a lot of credit.

I encourage all those who missed it last weekend, not to miss it again. "White Christmas" is playing again this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.