Reagle Players' first show of their 39th season is "Singin' in the Rain'', the 1986 stage version of the 1952 Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds film. 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 to salvage the career of its chipmunk-voiced silent film stars. Director/choreographer Kirby Grant and co-choreographer Eileen Grace capture the nostalgic flair of the 1920's style in their fabulous dance numbers throughout the show and the musical direction by Dan Rodriguez is superb with melodic voices of the soloists and the harmonic blend of the chorus numbers while Brent Ferguson conducts the large orchestra in the lush music of yesteryear. Artistic director Robert Eagle keeps the production values at a Broadway level for this show. Add a phenomenal chorus, a multitude of splendid colorful costumes, fantastic sets and some extremely humorous black and white silent films and you have one of the best versions and casts of "Singin' in the Rain'' stage productions I've ever seen. Bravo.
All four of the leads are magnificent in this show. The leading man of this production is John MacInnis as Don Lockwood. He captures the essence of the old time movie star but can also act, sing and dance up a storm. John is perfect throughout the show and his "Singin' in the Rain" number which closes Act 1 is a show stopper with actual rain falling on the stage. Wow. One of the other show stopping numbers is the dance routine by John and the chorus in the "Broadway Melody" section of the show with many elaborate dances of the 1920's in a 15 minute presentation. ( The dancing girl in the green dress in this segment is played by Shanna Heverly who is outstanding and will take your breath away by her expertise during it.) John's dancing during this number is awesome, too. Some of his solo numbers include "All I Do is Dream of You", "You Were Meant for Me", "All I Do Is Dream of You" and "Would You". Don's love interest, Kathy Seldon, is played by the gorgeous and charismatic Kristen Beth Williams. This beautiful, statuesque gal grabs your attention from her first scene to last. Kristen infuses the role with the spunkiness and backbone it needs. Not only is her acting topnotch but so is her dancing and lovely singing voice. (I first saw Kristen at NSMT as Tess in "Crazy For You" in April and recognized her talent then.) Kristen's songs include "All I Do is Dream of You'', "You Are My Lucky Star'', "Would You" and the "Good Morning" trio with John and Randy Rogel as they dance over and flip the sofa. Randy who is a three time Emmy award winner, is perfection personified as the comical, Cosmo Brown. His rendition of "Make Em Laugh" as he dances around the stage, up the walls, fighting with a dummy on the sofa, behind the sofa, being struck by wooden boards, jumping threw a brick lined closet, doing pratfalls and never missing a lyric of the song is dynamite. Randy is a hoot throughout the show as are his duets with John, "Fit as a Fiddle" where they sing and dance while playing the fiddle and wearing the ugliest suits in the world and in "Moses Supposes" where they tap dance on top of a desk and all around the stage while abusing Don's diction coach. Lina Lamont, the silent film star whose voice can shatter glass is played by Heidi Karol Johnson. She is a Brooklyn, Betty Boop who can't speak properly for sound films. Some of her funniest moments come where she can't remember where the microphone is hidden causing hilarious moments in the film sequences. Heidi's hilarious show stopping number occurs in the second act and is called "What's Wrong with Me?" where Lina thinks she is perfect and everyone else is at fault for everything that goes wrong. She is a hoot and the audience cheers when Lina gets hers at the close of the show.
Other comic turns are given by R. Glen Michell as the befuddled producer, R.F. Simpson and Roy Earley as the hard-ass director, Roscoe Dexter whose exasperation at Lina's dumbness is hilarious, too. Another strong vocalist is Jason Michael Butler as the tenor who sings "Beautiful Girls" a Ziegfeld Follies type number with the dancing girls. The entire chorus sings and dances in the finale number of the show dressed in yellow slickers while they sing and dance in the rain. (The understudy for Don Lockwood, Joe Cullinane, is a young man I saw play Paul in "A Chorus Line" four years ago in Foxboro and appears in the chorus of this show.) So for one of the best versions of "Singin' in the Rain" besides the movie version, be sure to catch this show before the rain stops falling. Tell them Tony sent you.