Theatre Mirror Reviews - "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone



”SINGIN' IN THE RAIN”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone



The summer blockbuster musical this year at NSMT is "Singin' in the Rain", the 1986 stage version of the 1952 Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds movie. Set in 1927 Hollywood, the show is a light hearted romantic comedy about the early days of sound film, when many a studio found itself scrambling the career of chipmunk-voiced silent film stars. Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are the toast of Tinseltown until "talkies" come on the scene. Director/choreographer Richard Stafford captures the nostalgic flair of the 1920's dance numbers throughout the show and the musical direction by Milton Granger is superb with the melodic voices of the soloists and the harmonic blend of the chorus numbers. He also conducts the terrific orchestra in the lush music of yesteryear. Owner and producer Bill Hanney keeps the production values at a Broadway level for this show. Add a phenomenal chorus, a multitude of colorful costumes, fantastic sets and some extremely humorous black and white silent films and you have one of the best versions and best casts of "Singin' in the Rain" stage productions I have every seen. Bravo!

All four leads in this show are terrific. The leading man of this production is Mark Evans as Don Lockwood. He captures the essence of this old time movie star but can also sing act, sing and dance up a storm. Mark is perfect throughout the show and his "Singing in the Rain" number which closes Act 1 is a show stopper with actual rain falling on the stage. It definitely is breathtaking as is the "Broadway Melody" section. This number is a 15 minute dance segment with many elaborate dances of the 1920's done by Mark and the chorus. They execute Richard's dance moves in perfect unison. The dancing girl in the green dress in "Broadway Melody" is Kristyn Pope who is outstanding as she takes your breath away with her dance moves. Mark's dancing during this number is awesome, too. Some of his other solo numbers include "All I Do is Dream of You", "You Were Meant for Me" and "Would You?" Mark's American accent is impeccable. Don's love interest, Kathy Seldon is played by the gorgeous and charismatic Tessa Grady. This beautiful gal grabs your attention from her first scene to her last. Tessa infuses the role of Kathy with the spunkiness and backbone it needs. Not only is her acting topnotch but so is her dancing and lovely singing voice. Tessa's songs include "All I Do is Dream of You", "You Are My Lucky Star", "Would You?" and the "Good Morning Trio with Mark and Sean McGibbon as they tap dance over the whole stage and flip over the sofa.

Sean is perfection personified as the comical Cosmo Brown. His rendition of "Make 'Em Laugh" is dynamite as he dances around the stage, up the walls, fighting with a dummy on the sofa, behind the sofa while being struck by wooden boards, doing pratfalls and never missing a lyric of his song. Sean is a hoot throughout the show and so are his duets with Mark, "Fit as a Fiddle" where they sing and dance while playing the fiddle and wearing the ugliest suits in the world. (Child actors Kyle Reynolds and Jake Flynn as young Don and Cosmo steal the scene as the Young Don and Young Cosmo while doing an excellent tap dance.) Sean and Mark's other dance number is "Moses Supposes" where they tap dance on top of a desk and all around the stage while abusing Don's diction coach, well played by Kevin Loreque who I last reviewed as Rum Tum Tugger in "Cats" here in 2013. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Emily Stockdale as Lina Lamont, the Brooklyn blonde, Betty Boop whose high pitched nasal voice is perfection as she utters every single one of her lines. One of her funniest scenes in the microphone scene where she turns her head at the wrong times as her voice fades in and out and also when she falls off the bench. Emily's hilarious show stopping number is "What's Wrong With Me" with her deliberate off key singing, stupendous facial expressions and sexual innuendoes. Brava on a job very well done.

Other comic turns are by veteran actors David Coffee as the hard ass director, Roscoe Dexter and Steve Brady as the befuddled producer R.F. Simpson. It is an extreme pleasure seeing David perform in a summer production at NSMT because we usually only see him in "Christmas Carol" as Scrooge in December. Rachel Coloff is a hoot as Dora Bailey, the Rona Barrett type reporter of the 1920's. She is also hilarious as Lina's diction coach with her precise annunciation of the dialogue for the movie. Another powerful vocalist in the show is Zak Edwards as the tenor who leads "Beautiful Girls" with his voice soaring off the charts. The closing number has the entire cast singing in the rain in their yellow slickers on. So for one of the best versions of "Singing in the Rain" besides the movie, be sure to catch this show before the rain stops falling. This is the must see show this summer season. Tell them Tony sent you. And yes, it really does rain on the stage. Next year's shows are "The Music Man", "Beauty and the Beast", "Young Frankenstein", "Evita" and "42nd Street."

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (16 to 28 August)
North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA
1(978)232-7200 or www.nsmt.org




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