note: entire contents copyright 2014 by Sheila Barth
Throughout Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s sterling 46-year history of producing glitzy, glamorous musicals, founder-producing artistic director Robert Eagle has spared no expense to make every show superlative.
Eagle’s 2002, 2003, and 2007 productions of timeless song-and-dance hit, “Singin’ in the Rain” all played to packed, sold-out houses and won several awards for their overall excellence. To ensure the 2007 production’s supremacy, Eagle bought the original set and rainmaking machine, reproducing downpours on stage and smashing, splashing choreography a’ la Gene Kelly in the 1952 classic movie version. Eagle traditionally has hired topnotch directors, choreographers, musicians, and award-winning performers, bought Broadway original sets and costumes, and filled Waltham High School’s Robinson Theatre stage with dazzling, lavish shows, rivaling those of national touring companies and well-known venues.
And every time Eagle presented “Singin’ in the Rain,” it has been bigger, splashier, and more jaw-dropping. Besides its large cast of 17, this production boasts a huge, talented, vocal and tap-dancing ensemble, accompanied by 19 fantastic musicians led by Reagle favorite musical director Daniel Rodriguez. Glittering, gorgeous 1920’s costumes by Costume World Theatrical are lavish eye candy, recalling the Gatsby, or Golden Era, with their fringed flapper dresses, feathers and glitter, headdresses, high-collared fur coats, cloches, fedoras, argyle vest sweaters, caps, and caped dress coats.
Director-choreographer Kirby Ward and former Rockette performer-director Eileen Grace, along with Rodriguez, are reprising their award-winning stints of Reagle’s 2007 production, adding even more effervescence, energy and excitement to every number. Ward’s boundless artistic skills cross over to technological lines, with his large, black-and-white movie clips of this production’s actors performing in silent movies and talkies, some with dubbed voices.
Set in Hollywood Tinseltown in 1927, the plot is the typical 1950‘s, big musical story of ingenue meets big male star, who fall in love,and end up performing together, happily ever after. “Singin’ in the Rain” also traces Hollywood’s transition from silent movies to talkies, when MGM debuted the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer,” which catapulted some actors to stardom or ruined others. The talkies paved the way for splashy, spectacular musicals of the 1920s and 1930s.
In this two-act,play, Monument Pictures’ glamorous silent movie star Lina Lamont’s fame becomes jeopardized when her squeaky voice is revealed during a movie premiere. Noreen Hughes draws big laughs as she nails every screechy, irritatingly egocentric facet of Lina’s personality.
Lina’s perceives her longtime co-star, Don Lockwood, as her fiance’ (she reads and believes the movie star magazines’ hype of their non-extant romance), even though he consistently rejects her. Don falls in love with fresh-faced ingenue Kathy Selden, whose voice is dubbed for Lamont’s, but unveiled later. Like her role as ingenue Kathy Selden, Gillian Mariner Gordon,21, of Charlestown, is a rising star. Her voice is lovely, her dancing and acting memorable. Gordon and her talented singer-dancer co-star, Sean Quinn, portraying Don Lockwood, create charming romantic chemistry together with their prolonged kisses, blended voices and synchronized dance steps in duets,“You Are My Lucky Star,” “Would You,” and “You Were Meant for Me,”
Also outstanding is Edward Tolve, portraying Cosmo Brown, Don’s longtime song-and-dance sidekick. Tolve bounces off walls, flips through the air, and tap dances with Quinn on everything, from a countertop to a couch. Their duets in “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and tongue-twisting “Moses Supposes,” are fun.
Nothing anywhere compares with Don’s fantasy stint in “Gotta Dance,” his sublime drenching dance to the show’s theme song, and the ensemble’s umbrella twirling, tapdance finale. It may be raining on stage, but theatergoers have a lilt to their feet and a lift to their spirits.
BOX INFO:Two-act, 2-1/2-hour musical, adapted by Betty Comden and Adolph Green from the 1952 MGM movie screenplay; songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed; playing through Aug. 17: Thursday, Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington St., Waltham. Tickets, $35-$63; seniors, $3 discount; youths 5-18 years old, $25; college students with valid ID, student rush tickets 50 percent off an hour before curtain, if available. Group discounts, call 781-891-5600, Ext. 1201; or e-mail email@example.com. Call the Box Office at 781-891-5600, visit there, or online at www.reaglemusictheatre.com.