In Fred's Steps: Jeffry Denman Idolized Astaire-Then One Clay He Heard about White Christmas

By Gold, Sylviane | Dance Magazine, December 2008 | Go to article overview

In Fred's Steps: Jeffry Denman Idolized Astaire-Then One Clay He Heard about White Christmas


Gold, Sylviane, Dance Magazine


Jeffry Denman has a framed airplane ticket, and it's not because he's an airline buff or because he got a celebrity to autograph it at the airport. It's because even though he was unemployed, broke, and in debt, he bought that cross-country ticket to get himself from New York to a Los Angeles audition. The audition won him the dance lead in Irving Berlin's White Christmas, which he's played across the country since 2004. And this holiday season, he's landing with it on Broadway, playing the role first created in the movies by his idol, Fred Astaire, and later by another master of movement, Danny Kaye.

For those not up on their pop music ancient history, "White Christmas," one of a handful of songs that most Americans can sing from beginning to end, was written by Irving Berlin and performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn. Crosby and Astaire played two thirds of a nightclub act competing for the affections of their partner, who stays in showbiz with the Astaire character while Crosby buys a farm in New England. The movie was a hit, the title was appropriated for a hotel chain, and the song went on to become the best-selling single of all time. Twelve years later, Michael Curtiz directed a sequel of sorts, White Christmas, with Crosby repeating his role and Kaye replacing Astaire.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the stage version, directed by musical theater veteran Walter Bobbie and choreographed by tap maestro Randy Skinner, David Ives and Paul Blake borrowed from the plots of both movies and inserted Berlin songs that were not in either one. Voila: a seasonal theater attraction bursting with big tap numbers, classic songs, and that most endangered of musical-theater species, star turns for a brilliant song-and-dance man.

Enter Jeffry Denman, who had been immersed in the work of Astaire for years, from the day he got sick, stayed home from school, and, on the advice of his teacher and mentor, watched Astaire in the 1937 film Damsel in Distress on television. "From that moment," he says, "that was pretty much who I wanted to be."

In the new White Christmas, he gets the chance. Lean and dapper, with a clean line and natural elegance, he exudes an easy charm, as if channeling Astaire and all those Hollywood dance stars who came after. His dancing partner in the show, Meredith Patterson, is also a student of old musicals. "We quickly found out that we were absolutely made to perform together onstage," he says. "We both love Ginger Rogers and Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller. It's where we live."

It's not where Denman started. That would be Buffalo, New York, 38 years ago. He discovered his love of the stage at 13, when he did a small role in a school production of Pippin. With the same determination he would later show in pursuing White Christmas, he pulled up his grades so he could attend the Catholic high school where he'd been blown away by a performance of Godspell. He got into the school's swing choir, and one day was pulled out to do a solo. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In Fred's Steps: Jeffry Denman Idolized Astaire-Then One Clay He Heard about White Christmas
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.