Irving Berlin’s legendary musical Holiday Inn

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Irving Berlin’s American masterpiece, Holiday Inn, is now playing at America’s masterpiece, the Walnut Street Theatre, until October 21.


Based upon the eponymous iconic film, Holiday Inn at the Walnut Street Theatre is in the words of one of the famed numbers, “Plenty to Be Thankful For.” From the exceptional scenic design to dazzling costumes and lighting, to amazing dancing, singing, and acting, this Holiday Inn is a winner on all counts.


Holiday Inn is principally the story of three people who meet several other wonderful people in 1946 through 1947, while often busting out into songs, many of which will be instantly recognizable. For example, we have, “Heat Wave,” “White Christmas,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Easter Parade,” and many others. There is tap dancing! Oh, yes, and dazzling production numbers. Chorus boys (and girls), with the girls often dressed in little more than a few wisps of silk, lipstick, high heels,  and a smile. 


We first meet the three principle characters, Jim Hardy, Ted Hanover, and Lila Dixon as they perform their act in a nightclub. Jim has a dream of owning a farm in Connecticut, and thereby hangs the tale. Ben Dibble is Jim Hardy. What is there left to say about the incredible, lovable, sexy Mr. Dibble? He was recently seen as the stern, bisexual, hot and sexy father in Fun Home. Audiences swooned over his thin, tight, white t-shirt and clinging hot pants. Now, in Holiday Inn, he is as wholesome as apple pie, heterosexual, and as fresh as a snap pea, with a great, traditional voice. Is there nothing this multiple-Barrymore-winning hunk can’t do? Dibble’s Paul Newman-like good looks and great stage presence are definite assets for this Holiday Inn.  Jacob Tischler is Ted Hanover, Jim’s best friend and partner onstage. Where Ben Dibble looks fresh and innocent, Mr. Tischler owns dark, smoldering, good looks allied with phenomenal tap-dancing talent. Several times in the musical, he creates magic onstage. During his July 4th number, Tischler tap dances for what seems like an eternity spent in heaven. What a guy! What talent! Bonnie Kelly as an appropriately buxom blonde floozie rounds out the trio as the girl who loves fame and celebrity more than an adorably homespun guy.


Philadelphia’s famed Mary Martello is Louise, Jim’s right-hand-man on the farm and agent of change for many plot twists in the story. Martello brings Hermione Gingold sassiness to her role. Martello is a fantastically good Louise. Fran Prisco is an amusing Danny, Jacob Wilner and Scott Angelides alternate in the role of the annoying juvenile Charlie Winslow, and Cary Michelle Miller is a totally believable, totally adorable Linda Mason. Mason has acting and singing talent to spare in her role as school teacher turned star while falling in love with Jim.


The live orchestra was conducted by John Daniels with style and brilliance. Choreography is by Michelle Gaudette. Veteran director Charles Abbott allowed everyone to shine.


Our Phillygaycalendar readers should note a few special moments in this production. Louise at one point grabs a chorus girl and says she’s ready to get married. Another when a seven-foot tall gal/guy wants to be Ted Hanover’s dance partner. And what are we to make of Louise’s solution to no heating at Christmas? Everyone get themselves a partner to sleep with.


See this wonderful production of Holiday Inn at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre. For more information, visit .


Read Related Posts...