Grosse Pointe Theatre brings holiday classic to the stage

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 10, 2014

 From left, Tom Pagano, Danielle Caralis, Stephanie Butler and Ryan Gigliotti will take the stage in Grosse Pointe Theatre’s presentation of “White Christmas” starting this weekend.

From left, Tom Pagano, Danielle Caralis, Stephanie Butler and Ryan Gigliotti will take the stage in Grosse Pointe Theatre’s presentation of “White Christmas” starting this weekend.

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Grosse Pointe Theatre’s performance of “White Christmas” is about bringing the community together for a beautiful holiday showcase of singing, dancing and a story that allows the theater troupe to acknowledge the community’s veterans and all they’ve sacrificed.

Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” will run from Dec. 13-22 at Fries Auditorium at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lakeshore Road.

Director Don Bischoff, of Macomb Township, said there are a number of things that make this show special.

“It’s just one of those feel-good musicals. Everything comes together in the end,” he said. “(It has) some of the most beautiful music ever written.”

Also, there is a heartwarming tribute to veterans.

The Grosse Pointe Theatre brought the same beloved Christmas show to the stage last year, but they are making some changes to this year’s performance.

“We’ve added two all-new dance numbers,” Bischoff said, noting that they’ve tweaked some things from last year, as well.

Another draw for theater lovers this year will be this season’s cast. 

“This is some of the most talented performers I’ve ever worked with,” Bischoff said.

The cast includes some dancing performers that range from age 9-60.

“Everybody’s tapping,” he said. 

The cast and crew hail from all over the metro Detroit area, including throughout the Grosse Pointes.

Stephanie Butler, who grew up in the Grosse Pointes but now lives in Bloomfield, is reprising her role from last year as Judy Haynes.

“It’s just such a wonderful show,” she said. “It puts everyone in the Christmas spirit.”

She said people are all smiles throughout the show, but then the cast, crew and audience always cries from the heartwarming tribute to the veterans.

She’s excited for those who didn’t take part last year to be able to experience that moment.

It’s a show that is enjoyed by people of all ages, a family show, Butler said.

“It’s an iconic movie,” she added. “I think the play is even better.”

The play has a more modern feel, but also embraces the beauty and grace of the popular dance numbers and songs from the film, she said.

Danielle Caralis, who also grew up in the Grosse Pointes and now lives in Birmingham, is on the board of directors of the Grosse Pointe Theatre, and she’s an actor in this year’s performance of “White Christmas.” It’s a bit of a departure from her role in the performance last year as stage manager.

A seasoned actor with performances under her belt including as a student at Grosse Pointe North, Caralis is enjoying taking the stage as Betty Haynes this year.

“Who wouldn’t want to sing these iconic songs?” Caralis said.

“It’s a lovely way to open up the Christmas season,” she said of the show, also commenting on the tribute to veterans during the performance. “It’s a lovely way to honor our veterans. We try to do that as respectfully as possible and thank them for their service.

“I feel like we have a good show,” she added. “We’re looking forward to having full houses, and entertaining the community and friends and family for the holidays.”

Matinee performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21. Evening performances will run at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 17, 18, 21 and 22.

Tickets are $24 each, and parking is free. For more information, visit www.gpt.org or call (313) 881-4004.

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