America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Shake Away the Blues with Irving Berlin’s HOLIDAY INN At Walnut Street Theatre

August 9, 2018

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre opens its landmark 210th season with the lush romantic comedy Irving Berlin’s HOLIDAY INN, featuring a score by “America’s Songwriter.”  Based on the classic film by the same name, the production will be directed by Charles Abbott and choreographed by Michelle Gaudette. Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn begins previews on September 4th, opens on September 12th, and runs through October 21st on the Walnut’s Mainstage.

Broadway veteran Jim leaves the bright lights of show business for the quiet of a country farm. But life just isn’t the same without song and dance, so Jim turns his farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. But can Jim also work the same magic on his love life? Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn features a parade of hit Berlin standards, including "Blue Skies," "Easter Parade," "White Christmas," "Steppin’ Out With My Baby," "Heat Wave," "Cheek to Cheek," and many more, along with laugh-out-loud musical comedy and thrilling dance numbers, all wrapped in a heartwarming story.

Walnut’s production is a fresh take on the 1942 musical film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with brand new designs, choreography, and staging. Featuring more than 20 songs from “America’s Songwriter,” Irving Berlin, it was adapted for the stage by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge. In its journey from screen to stage, several more Berlin standards were added to the beloved film score.  

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn premiered in 2014 at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut before being brought to life again in 2015 at the Muny. In 2016, the musical premiered on Broadway starring Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu and had a successful run, receiving Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Choreography.

Award-winning Director Charles Abbott will lead the Walnut’s production. Abbott has been involved in over 30 Walnut Street Theatre productions in a variety of roles including actor, director and choreographer beginning with Oliver! in 1983. His Walnut directing credits include South Pacific, And Then There Were None, Arsenic and Old Lace, Hairspray, Crazy for You, Annie (2003), and The Sound of Music. Abbott has received five Barrymore nominations, winning for his direction of 42nd Street and his performance in Cabaret at the Walnut, a role he played over 1,000 times in the first national tour of Cabaret under Harold Prince’s direction.  He served as the artistic director for Maine State Music Theatre for 20 seasons, and was recently the namesake for the Charles Abbott Fellowship that allows burgeoning directors to assist artistic directors across the country through the Society of Directors and Choreographers. John Daniels takes the podium as music director and Michelle Gaudette joins Abbott as choreographer. This is Daniels’ second season as music director at the Walnut, having served as the associate conductor for six years. Gaudette, a former Rockette, has previously choreographed at the Walnut for productions including Annie, Forum, South Pacific, 9 To 5: The Musical, In the Heights, Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, State Fair, Man of La Mancha, Carousel, and Evita.

The Walnut welcomes back Ben Dibble as Jim Hardy, the performer and songwriter who longs for the quiet life. In addition to performing in last season’s Noises Off, Annie, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Dibble has also performed at the Walnut in Saturday Night Fever, Harvey, High Society, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Producers, Arsenic and Old Lace, 9 to 5 the Musical, and Hairspray. His nightclub counterpart, Ted Hanover, will be played by Jacob Tischler. Walnut audiences will remember Tischler from his performance as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (2017). Tischler also played Jimmy on the National Tour of Flashdance, and has performed regionally with Westchester Broadway Theater, Northern Stage, and New London Barn Playhouse

The two love interests, Lila Dixon and Linda Mason, will be played by Bonnie Kelly and Cary Michele Miller. Kelly returns to the Walnut stage after previously performing in The Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Story. She also toured the country in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and A Chorus Line. Miller has been seen in numerous Walnut productions including Annie, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Elf, State Fair, Peter Pan, and Carousel.

Walnut veteran Mary Martello will take the stage as Louise, the overenthusiastic, meddling, but well-meaning farmhand. In her almost 20 years on local stages, Martello has been awarded five Barrymore Awards, received a Lunt/Fontanne Fellowship, and has performed in almost 25 Walnut productions. She has been seen at the Walnut as Dottie Otley in Noises Off, Deirdre Blake in The Humans, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mother Superior in Sister Act. The Tour Manager of Jim, Ted, and Lila will be played by another Walnut veteran, Fran Prisco. Prisco has appeared on the Walnut stage over 30 times with credits including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Saturday Night Fever, The Wizard of Oz, and South Pacific.

Young Midville local Charlie Winslow will be played by Scott Angelides of Paoli, PA and Jacob Wilner of Malvern, PA. Angelides was most recently seen in Annie (Ensemble), Honk Jr. (Beaky), and Wizard of Oz (Lollipop Guild Muchkin). Wilner was most recently seen in Wizard of Oz (Mayor of Munchkinland), Christmas Story (Schwartz), and Mary Poppins (Michael Banks).

The tapping and waltzing ensemble includes Casey Elizabeth Gill (South Pacific), Billy D. Hart (Forum, Annie, Mamma Mia!), Jesse Jones (Mamma Mia!), Kimberly Maxson (Forum, Mamma Mia!), Dallas Padoven (Annie), Owen Pelesh (Mamma Mia!), and Marissa Wolner (High Society). Aaron Bell, Denali Bennett, Colleen Roberts, Ben Sheppard and Kayla Tarpley will make their Walnut debuts. Denali Bennett, Owen Pelesh, and Ben Sheppard will also take on dual-roles as onstage musicians throughout the show.

Creating a transformative set that carries the show from glitzy nightclubs to the dazzling Holiday Inn is Robert Andrew Kovach as set designer (Forum, Annie, South Pacific, High Society).  Kovach is joined by Lighting Designer Jack Mehler (Mamma Mia!, Saturday Night Fever, Sister Act, Memphis), and Sound Designer Ed Chapman (Forum, Annie, The Wizard of Oz, In the Heights). Creating the 250+ costumes for the show, from dancing turkeys to Easter bonnets, is Costume Designer Mary Folino (The Humans, Annie, Forum, South Pacific, Peter and the Starcatcher, A Christmas Story).

Irving Berlin’s HOLIDAY INN runs at the Walnut September 4 through October 21. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, September 30, 7pm performance. This production is sponsored in part by Herman Goldner Co., INC. Media Sponsors are 6ABC and Metro Philadelphia. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.