Feature: For Kelly Sheehan, ‘White Christmas’ is a Holiday Tradition

For White Christmas’ Kelly Sheehan, tap dancing is just part of her DNA.

“I’ve been tapping since I can remember,” she says. “It’s always been, you know, just what I do.”

Sheehan’s grandmother ran several dance studios in Toledo, Ohio, and her mother was a professional dancer. And although Sheehan experimented with many different styles of dance growing up, tap just came naturally to her.

“Tap was just something that grabbed my attention,” she says. “It’s for me the most fun, making music with your feet.”

Sheehan will be dancing her way onto the Durham Performing Arts Center stage this week. She plays Judy Haynes in the stage adaptation of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, which runs through Sunday. She says what’s most appealing about the show for her is the story, the musical score, which includes the standards “Count Your Blessings,” “Blue Skies,” and “White Christmas,” and of course, the dancing.

Choreographer Randy Skinner was nominated for a Tony Award for his work on the production. Sheehan says nobody builds a tap number quite like he can. In fact, one of her favorites to perform is “I Love a Piano.”

“It’s such a pleasure to do a tap number in a show that’s not doing anything, just being a tap number,” she says. “We know we’ve got something really special when we’re doing that number.”

Sheehan has been with the show since 2005, first performing in the ensemble, then covering for Judy, and then taking on the role five years ago. She says for her the show has become a holiday tradition that she looks forward to year after year.

“It’s such a special show and we all have become this amazing family,” she says. “It’s like a reunion every year getting together.”

“It’s such a nice family to come back to for the holidays.”

And it’s that genuineness that makes the show such a wholesome experience for audiences, especially this time of year.

“I think it’s such an interesting time that you don’t necessarily hear anyone say, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘happy holidays’ and be extremely genuine about it,” says Sheehan. “Every time in the show, it’s just, it’s genuine.”

“It’s such a sweet story, and it really kicks off the holidays, and I think everyone has such a great time,” she adds. “I know I have a great time in the show.”

White Christmas runs through Sunday, December 8th at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/irving-berlins-white-christmas or the RDU on Stage Calendar Page.

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