Dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’ at the Cadillac Palace

By Katherine Savage, News Editor

Courtesy Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
The musical adaptation of the classic holiday film of the same name, “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” is returning to the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., from Dec. 10 to 15.

The Cadillac Palace Theatre is where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” as part of Broadway in Chicago.

The musical adaptation of the classic holiday film of the same name, “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” is returning to the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., from Dec. 10 to 15. Set during World War II, the show tells the story of singers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who join sister-duo act Betty and Judy Haynes, to put on a performance to help fund a struggling inn.

The conversion combines the classic film with more of Irving Berlin’s music, creating some “wonderful Broadway” numbers, said Kerry Conte, who plays Betty Haynes. Conte, who has been with the production for five years, said she is similar to her character because both have an odd, dry sense of humor.

Conte spoke with the Chronicle about her character, her experiences and what makes the show stand out.

THE CHRONICLE: What would you say you add to the character that makes your adaptation different?

CONTE: I’m a little bit rye in my own humor, so I’ve brought that to the character. I think, actually, we’re very, very similar. It’s funny because backstage, Kelly Sheehan, who plays my sister Judy, we’re like sisters in real life. We had the same banter that goes back and forth, and I think it’s kind of fun to bring that onto the stage. I hope the audience can see that, as well.

Courtesy Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Kerry Conte, who plays Betty Haynes in “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”

What has been the highlight of being part of this production so far?

One of my favorite parts is meeting the people. All those actors on stage, we’re all best friends in real life. I know that’s crazy, but I just love them all. It’s funny because the show is about people coming together and helping each other out, and we would do anything for each other. If there’s something that goes wrong in the show, everyone is there to be helpful, and everyone is equal.

How does the show vary from city to city?

The backstage is always different. We’re lucky enough in Chicago, we’ll be in the same theatre that we were in two years ago when we were there. But also … we get our new local crew [for] every city, which is also fun because you get to meet some of the locals [that] will tell you where to go.

How is the “White Christmas” show different from others you have done?

I do a lot of the old classics, so I’m used to this style. This is a little bit different because I don’t know of any shows that every year it comes back. We have a 10-month hiatus almost, and then we come back and we do it for two months. … People do shows for years and years, but they’re always in it all the time. … It’s fun because through the years I’ve changed so, of course, my character changed and the people in the show have changed. So I think it’s only gotten better and better as we grow.

Why do you think after all these years “White Christmas” is still a holiday classic?

The story is so universal. It’s a Christmas movie, it’s a Christmas show, but it really is about … a huge community coming together and trying to help out someone in need. … Children love it, adults love it. In the end, it starts to snow, and I love it when I can see adults in the front row. Their eyes are gleaming, they’re crying, [and] they’re looking up at the sky—it’s really special.