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‘Holiday Inn’ review: Strong cast helps comforting fare shine

From left, Corbin Bleu, Lora Lee Gayer, Bryce

From left, Corbin Bleu, Lora Lee Gayer, Bryce Pinkham in "Holiday Inn." Credit: Joan Marcus

WHAT “Holiday Inn”

WHERE Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.

INFO $47-$152; 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org

BOTTOM LINE Predictable and perky holiday fare with some first-rate actors.

“Holiday Inn” — subtitled “The New Irving Berlin Musical” — has the feel of a holiday perennial that has been returning from storage or been on the road for years. This may well be a good thing for audiences looking for reassurance that the creators know precisely what they intend to do with this adaptation of the 1942 Bing Crobsy-Fred Astaire movie favorite and are professional about coloring within the lines of expectations.

For those hoping that the Roundabout Theatre Company had ambitions more challenging than perky audience bait to compete with the other moneymaking holiday offerings, well, hope elsewhere.

On the other hand, the show does have some first-rate principals, including Bryce Pinkham (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”) in Crosby’s singing role and Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) in Astaire’s dancing part. At least as significant, it has bushels of Berlin classics that go right around the holiday calendar — not just “White Christmas,” but “Let’s Start the New Year Right,” followed by “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” for Valentine’s Day, “Easter Parade,” “Song of Freedom” for the Fourth of July and “Plenty to Be Thankful For,” for which the game dancers in Denis Jones’ generic choreography get to wiggle their turkey feathers in Alejo Vietti’s often-creative costumes.

The story, adapted by the competent if not dazzling director Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, is the familiar one about a disillusioned New York singer named Jim, portrayed by Pinkham with endearing charm and a voice of bright nuance. Without asking his girlfriend (a hard-edged Megan Sikora) if she’d like to leave their three-person act for the simple country life, he buys a Connecticut farm. She refuses and runs off with the rest of the trio, Ted, played by Bleu with impressive moves, casual smoothness and a confident goofy streak.

Jim leaves to enjoy “Blue Skies” alone, but discovers the farm is in foreclosure. Enter New York gypsies with their let’s-put-on-a-show-kids verve, and a stock, but deft comic handywoman (Megan Lawrence). The farm becomes an inn, only open and performing shows on appropriate holidays. Jim also falls for a local schoolteacher with handy musical skills, portrayed with an expert operetta voice and girl-next-door aplomb by Lora Lee Gayer.

If walls had ears, what would Studio 54, disco home of ’70s debauchery, make of this hokey, wholesome new occupant? If the walls had eyes, I suspect they would roll.

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