NEWSDAY ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’ review: Merry indeed

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you could do worse than a Vermont ski lodge. But beware. Few things in life are as variable as “Love and the Weather,” as the song goes:

Unpredictable, irresponsible

Unbelievable, unreliable

Ever since the world began

Are Cupid and the weather man

Yet, as with any holiday musical, the final scene of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” — receiving a full-throated reincarnation at Northport’s Engeman Theater — is entirely predictable.

Merry merry rules.

In case you don’t recall the Bing Crosby movies — “Holiday Inn” (1942) and “White Christmas” (1954) — on which the show is based, Bob and Phil, Broadway song-and-dance stars and World War II veterans, wind up on a train to Vermont with a sister act hired for a ski-resort gig. In a coincidence possible only in romantic musicals, the inn is owned by the general who commanded the boys’ division in Europe.

Cautious-in-love Bob, sung by Aaron Ramey with a booming leading-man voice, and Betty, frosty as played by Kennedy Caughell except while singing her torch duet with Bob (“How Deep Is the Ocean”), are paired with ladies’ man Phil (Drew Humphrey) and flirty Judy (Darien Crago), who are hot to fox-trot. They make a nimbly in-tune leading dance couple. (James Olmstead’s brassy orchestra accompanies Humphrey’s choreography.)

The boys conspire to save the general’s deeply unprofitable inn by throwing a Broadway-scale Christmas show and recruiting guys from the old division to fill the seats. But a misunderstanding involving the inn’s busybody concierge (Kathryn Kendall as a former Ethel Merman protege) sends Betty fleeing from Bob’s arms the morning after she was driven into them by a sweet “Count Your Blessings” lullaby he sang to the general’s granddaughter. Adorable Susan is played alternately by Katie Dolce and Claire Levasseur, both 10, while Drew Taylor soldiers on as the grandpa general.

Whenever the plot improbabilities threaten to derail “White Christmas” from its inevitable sing-along — you know the lyrics, don’t you? — director Mark Adam Rampmeyer cuts briskly to a flashy dance number, distracting us with color-coordinated, mid-20th century costumes of Ryan Moller’s design. Jonathan Collins’ rustic set brings to mind a Vermont barn when it isn’t disguised with sequined curtains for the Manhattan scenes.

Partying like it’s 1954 may not sound like a hoot, but at the Engeman, nostalgia brings a smile, and maybe even a tear.

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