'Singin' in the Rain' is all wet- and that's a good thing
Marriott Theatre has staged an audacious, vibrant production with its adaptation of the 1952 Gene Kelley musical, ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’
This show reaches for the stars, and its company is so exuberant, its orchestration and choreography so refined, that shortcomings of the script (by legendary duo Adolph Green and Betty Comden) don’t really matter. It came to life, after all, as the low-brow, plot-free Hollywood Revue of 1929, a cinema collection of musical numbers to showcase big stars in early talkies.
Danny Gardner plays silent film era Don Lockwood (the Gene Kelley character); Richard Ruiz Yoder, his bosom buddy and pianist Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor in the film).
The third in this musical menage is Mary Michael Patterson as Kathy Selden (in the movie, Debbie Reynolds). Patterson is a standout in this show: a most natural dancer, a bit of a bel canto, and emotive in her role, performing as naturally as someone falling off a log.
The songs were hits long before Singin’ in the Rain’s theatrical release. Burned into our collective unconsciousness (‘You Were Meant for Me’, ‘’Make Em Laugh’, ‘All I Do Is Dream of You’’Good Mornin’) we recognize these tunes from note one, accompanied by scenes from the movie re-enacted faithfully – if on occasion a bit slavishly.
The production builds to the show-stopping stormy solo dance, choreographed (as are all the dance sequences) by Gene Kelley and taken nearly intact to this staging, which includes hundreds of gallons of rain delivered from above for the Singin’ in the Rain scene. For my money, though, the best is Good Mornin’, in which the Gardner, Yoder, and Patterson really channel the spirit of unfettered joy expressed by the screen originals.
Among the standouts in great cast is Amanda Tanguay as gossip columnist Zelda Zanders (that 1920s elocution is on key), and Alexandra Palkovic as Lina Lamont, the star with a voice perfect for silent film (a Judy Holiday doppelganger). The orchestra directed by Patti Garwood is amplified in perfect balance throughout the theater.
Also a special nod to the set design by Tom Ryan, costume design by Nancy Missimi, lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Bob Gilmartin, properties design by Sally Weiss. The recreation of the silent film sequences which were much more incidental to the 1952 original are very, very funny - and beautifully conceived, with 18th Century France transmogrified to the 1920s silent era Hollywood - you'll recognize the style of those movie palaces in these very creative scenes.
This original production developed in Chicago could easily be Broadway bound. Seize your chance to see it through December 31 at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre.