Back to show

Marriott's 'Singin' in the Rain' makes a splash

★ ★ ★ ½

It's always tricky to adapt motion pictures into stage productions, especially when the original is about movies.

That's one of the challenges of "Singin' in the Rain," based on the 1952 film with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor. Though the film never received a best picture Oscar nomination, many critics rank this MGM classic as one of the best -- if not the best -- movie musical of all time.

The stage adaptation, based almost verbatim on the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, must capture the film's memorable imagery -- right down to Kelly dancing with street lamps in the rain. Marriott Theatre's current production succeeds, delivering these timeless scenes with aplomb. More importantly, it faithfully recreates the milieu of motion pictures.

The story concerns the transition between the silent film era and the "talkies," and much of the comedy stems from the growing pains of technology.

Popular 1920s movie stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are pairing up for a new film. But Lina's irritating voice won't work in the age of talkies. So the studio hires Kathy Selden to speak and sing for Lina. Meanwhile, romance blooms between Don and Kathy.

Much of the show's success rests on how good the actor in the "Gene Kelly" role is, and Danny Gardner plays Don with enthusiasm and considerable talent. And his dancing, especially in the tap sequences, is superb.

Joining Gardner is Mary Michael Patterson as Kathy Selden and Richard Riaz Yoder as Lockwood's pal Cosmo Brown. They, too, are accomplished singers and dancers, but the scenes with Gardner and Patterson lack chemistry.

Almost stealing the show is the spot-on Alexandra Palkovic, in what is a near-imitation of Jean Hagen, the original movie Lina.

Director William Brown adroitly uses Marriott's arena stage with compositions that serve all sides of the house. His realizations of the "flickers" -- the era's silent movies -- work well with soft strobe effects. Mimed talkie sequences are very funny, especially when the "sound" goes out of sync.

The highlight comes at the end of Act One, when Gardner performs the iconic title number. Water spigots over the stage shower Gardner and create puddles through which he can stomp and splash. When Gardner assumes the famous pose, hanging onto the lamp post at an angle, the lights fade to black -- guaranteeing chills for film lovers.

If impressive dancing and familiar songs are in your forecast, "Singin' in the Rain" is a good time at the theater. Umbrellas not included.