Theatre Mirror Reviews "Singin' in The Rain"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"Singin' in The Rain"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

URI Theatre's current show 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 movie studio found itself scrambling to salvage the career of its chipmunk-voiced silent picture star. Director Paula McGlasson recreates the bygone days of the 1920's while musical director Lila Cane leads the orchestra and cast in the melodic songs of yesteryear and choreographer Dante Sciarra creates magical moments with his inventive dance numbers especially all the fantastic tap dances, tango, kick line and Charleston. Since the show is about the old black and white films of the past, some of the best moments of this show are the silent films created for it which are hysterically funny and capture the essence of the silent films for current day audiences very successfully. There are four different films made for this production that Jimmy Calitri and Michael Commendatore film directed. This terrific cast is rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at curtain call. Bravo!

The multitude of gorgeous 1920's costumes are by David T. Howard while the lush scenic design is by Cheryl deWardener, lighting by Christian Wittner and sound by Michael Hyde. The glorious silent movie segments are outstanding. The leading man, Don Lockwood is played by Andrew Burnap. His rendition of the title song while dancing in the theatre with rain pouring on him, is terrific as he bounds around the stage splashing in puddles. Andrew solos on "You Were Meant for Me" and "Gotta Dance" which is part of the talking movie where the chorus gets to show off their dance moves. Andrew is a marvelous actor who plays comic, dramatic and musical comedy roles with the ease of a much older well seasoned performer. Bravo on another feather in the cap of this triple threat performer. Don's love interest, Kathy Seldon is played by Shannon Hartman, who is a cute as a button brunette with a terrific voice. She plays the spunky ingenue who steals Don's heart by insulting his acting talents. Shannon gets to show off her beautiful voice in "Dreaming of You'' with the girls, "You Are My Lucky Star", "Would You" and in "Good Morning", the best dance number in the show which she does with Andrew and Josh Andrews who plays Cosmo and she flips over the bench during it.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Josh as Cosmo. He is hilarious from the first moment he appears onstage. He dances up a storm with Andrew in "Fit As a Fiddle" where they are clad in ugly plaid suits while pretending to play fiddles as well as in "Moses Supposes" where they tap dance with their elocution professor, TS McCormick. This number stops the show as does his solo number, "Make "Em Laugh" where he does pratfall after pratfall while constantly dancing over and behind the sofa as well as running into boards, too. This song is an example of slapstick at its best. Josh has many of the best one liners and makes everyone of them hit pay dirt. Another comic performance is by Jamie Hansen as Lina Lamont, the high pitched nasal voiced talent less silent film star. The microphone scene where she keeps turning her head at the wrong time is priceless as is the film scene where she keeps playing with her pearl necklace causing horrible noises in the film. Jamie truly creates a dumb blonde who keeps you laughing at her many crazy antics. Her hilarious show stopping number is "What's Wrong With Me" where the audience roars at her off key singing, facial expressions and sexual innuendos.

Other comic turns are given by Miles Boucher as the hard-ass director, Roscoe Dexter and Birk Wozniak as the befuddled producer, R.F. Simpson who finally turns the tables on Lina. Miles was also terrific in "Tartuffe" while Birk played the evil Tartuffe. Another strong vocalist in the show is Josh Christensen as the tenor who sings "Beautiful Girls". The closing number of the show has the entire cast doing "Singing in the Rain" with their yellow slickers on. A rousing finish to the evening's entertainment. Kudos to the whole cast on sensational singing and dancing in this show. So for a trip back to the 1920's, be sure to catch the stage version of "Singin' in the Rain" where it really does rain onstage. You definitely won't be disappointed. Tell them Tony sent you. Run do not walk to the box office.

"Singin' in The Rain" (25 - 29 April)
@ Will Theatre, Upper College Road, KINGSTON RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide