Marriott’s splendid ‘Singin'' pours on the talent and kicks off Cubs’ reign
It was appropriately fitting for Marriott Theatre’s splendid new production to formally launch on this glorious fall’s seemingly lone rainy day.
It rained outside.
It rained inside.
It rained in Cleveland.
And then it reigned…seemingly everywhere.
Truly the lone unfortunate element about Singin’ in the Rain‘s opening night was its conflict with the World Series deciding game seven. That rendered about 1/5 of the typically filled seats empty and, in fairness, a rather distracted gathering of those attending.
Yes, this fit production was forced to play second fiddle to the World Champion Chicago Cubs on opening night and, doubtless, to baseball-infused celebrations through its first week.
But when the Chicago River fades back to its murky green from celebratory Cubbie blue, autumn’s leaves will give way to winter’s chill. And with the onset of the delightful season of Ho-Ho-Ho-ing, folks in Chicagoland will be looking for their next exciting event.
It’s not coming from the Bears this year.
Indeed, it’s found just down the road from the Bears’ practice facility in Lake Forest, where Lincolnshire’s Marriott Theatre plays host to this grand stage nod to the 1952 nostalgic film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. It’s a delightful tale of glamorous Hollywood’s transition from silent films to talkies in the late 1920s with a ditzy blonde and a love triangle to boot.
Up to the unenviable comparisons with the movie’s song and dance luminaries are Marriott Director William Brown‘s leading trio Danny Gardner (Don Lockwood), Richard Riaz Yoder (Cosmo Brown) and Mary Michael Patterson (Kathy Seldon).
The show’s well-known signature numbers, “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” “Good Mornin’” and the title song are stellar. As are the first act’s back-to-back ballads, “You are My Lucky Star” and “You Were Meant for Me.” Patterson in particular gives an angelic vocal performance. Gardner and Yoder lead the dance.
They are surrounded by an ensemble of fabulous hoofers who turn “Broadway Melody” from a head-scratcher in the cinematic version into the showstopping performance of this production. In fact, this number’s excellence calls out the stage adaptation by the original team (book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, music by Nacio Herb Brown). Indeed, the book and songbook are true to the movie, but outside “Broadway Melody” and “Beautiful Girls,” it fails to make full use (in this rendition) of Choreographer Tammy Mader and her outstanding dance ensemble’s extraordinary talents.
The cast is buoyed, too, by several standout performances outside the leading trio. Alexandra Palkovic is a stunning, hysterical Lina Lamont. Catherine Smitko and Amanda Tanguay are lovingly memorable as Dora Bailey and Zelda Zanders. Jason Grimm is fabulous as Monumental Pictures head R.F. Simpson. And Jessica Wolfrum Raun as the Lady in Green represents the entire stellar dance ensemble with her unforgettable moves.
Typically, all the technical elements—scenery, lighting, sound, music and costumes—are up to Marriott’s first-rate standards.
So while the Cubs of summer take their well-deserved winter hibernation and fans look for other means of entertainment, look to Lincolnshire, where Singin’ in the Rain is a whole lot better than that heard during the typical seventh inning stretch at Clark and Addison.