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[ 0 ] December 13, 2011 |

GET READY FOR A WHITE CHRISTMAS IN ORANGE COUNTY

Irving Berlin’s heart-warming classic, White Christmas debuted in 1954 and was adapted in to a stage musical in 2009. The story takes place during World War II—Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have just left the Army and team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When the sisters travel to a Vermont lodge to perform in a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.

STEPHEN BUNTROCK recently signed on for a tour of White Christmas, which includes a visit to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from Tuesday, December 13 to Sunday, January 1. Buntrock has a remarkable body of work on Broadway including A Little Night Music staring opposite Bernadette Peters, Oklahoma!, Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre, Titanic, Enjolras in the Tenth Anniversary of Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Grease!

He has toured in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond and appeared alongside Dame Julie Andrews at the Royal Philharmonic. He’s also the proud Papa to Haley and her little sisters, Anna and Catherine.

I know you’re busy on the tour right now, so thanks for taking the time to chat today.

Yeah, we are busy; it’s going well so far, spreading Christmas cheer around the country.

You have spent a lot of time on stage over your impressive career, can you think of an most outstanding moment?
Well, when I realized that I was just about to kiss Bernadette Peters on stage was pretty memorable and also Catherine Zeta-Jones, that was pretty good also. The other one would be when I was able to dawn the mask in Phantom of the Opera; that was an incredible time. It is such an iconic role and I was so thrilled that I got to do play it.

I bet. In White Christmas: The Musical you play Bob Wallace, immortalized on film by Bing Crosby; how are you like the character and how are you different?
Well, to be honest with you, I haven’t seen the movie since I was 8. After I was cast, I thought about watching it, but our rehearsal process was only ten days and I just wanted to jump in with Stephen Buntrock’s interpretation and play it my way. I would like to believe that I have the same virtues as Bob Wallace with my ideals in life.

“I have never enjoyed singing more on stage than in this show. The audience just sits back and is totally entertained with the story and the music.”

What’s it like to sing the classic song “White Christmas” knowing that it is the highest selling record of all time, to say nothing of impact it must have on the audience?
Let me tell you, Irving Berlin should write more musicals because he is really good at it. Singing “White Christmas,” “How Much Do I Love You” and “Loving the Weather,” I’ll say it again, is like sitting in a really, really comfortable arm chair and feeling so relaxed. I have never enjoyed singing more on stage than in this show. The audience just sits back and is totally entertained with the story and the music.

You are married to the striking Broadway actress, Erin Dilly. This past summer, you co-starred with her in a new play, In the Mood at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. How in the heck did you two originally meet?
Actually, we did Martin Guerre together which toured through the Ahmanson in L.A. in 2000. After a while we started dating and have been married for seven years. She is the best thing that ever happened to me!

Have there been times when the two of you were both in shows at the same time? If so, did you ever get competitive about who is going to have the bigger hit?
(A hearty laugh) No! You know what; we both want to have a big hit, because we both want to be able to pay our mortgage. I always want nothing but brilliant success for my wife and I know she wants the same for me.

In one sentence, give us the key to a successful marriage?
Friendship, soul mates and trust!

“I came very close a few years ago to be Hugh Jackman’s lover in Boy from Oz. I really wanted to play that character and playing a gay character is something that I would not shy away from.”

Have you ever had the opportunity to portray a gay character? If so, what was that like?
No, I have not. I came very close a few years ago to be Hugh Jackman’s lover in Boy from Oz. I really wanted to play that character and playing a gay character is something that I would not shy away from.

Are you considering a career in film in your future?
Film and TV haven’t really fallen onto my lap, nor have I really attacked them. My wife however is having wonderful success in that media. But, I have had an incredibly successful career on stage and it has always provided for my family. After my second daughter Katie was born, I kind of made it my point to just to be in theatre to enable my wife time to pursue film and television. This way I could be home for the kids. I love musical theatre and stage and of course I am open to future opportunities.

WHITE CHRISTMAS: THE MUSICAL Runs Tuesday, December 13 through Sunday, January 1, at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Tickets: 714.556.2787 or scfta.org.

WRITTEN FOR THE RAGE MONTHLY BY TONY REVERDITTO

Category: Orange County

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