"Singin’ in the Rain”
Goodspeed Musicals, East Haddam, CT
Goodspeed Musicals is a gift that keeps on givin.’ And dancin’ and singin.’ This time, to be specific, its irresistible offering is “Singin’ in the Rain,” a musical based on the 1952 classic, the Gene Kelley film of the same name.
This particular “Singin’ in the Rain” proves to be a joyous romp, with its appealing performers and smashing dance routines. Hats off to choreographer Rick Rick Conant and the indefatigable troupe! Though somewhat slow getting off the ground, the show gains momentum steadily until its dance numbers reach soaring heights. “Singin’ in the Rain’ has it all, including a good downpour.
The story, too, is likeable. Faithful to the original Betty Comden/Adolph Green book, it follows the fortunes of film people as the talking picture era gets under way. Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are Monumental Films’ silent film stars—and, for publicity purposes, lovers. He makes the transition into talkies easily, but her singing—and speaking—voice is a disaster. This problem is resolved when Kathy Selden (the heroine and Don’s true love) dubs the role.
So much for story, which allows for plenty of rousing dance numbers and the memorable tunes of Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Among them are: “You Are My Lucky Star,” “All I Do Is Dream Of You,” “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Good Morning,” and the title song itself. Moreover, director Roderick makes clever use of video gimmicks, interspersing stage scenes with clips of the film Monumental Films is attempting to make. Even Goodspeed’s Executive Director Michael Price appears on a short film, slyly fitting into the story as he explains the talking picture process.
Topping the list of performers is David Elder, who is letter-perfect as the romantic lead (the film’s Gene Kelley role). Moreover, he has a loose, easy—yet flawless--style as a dancer. When he teams up with his buddy Cosmo (played by Scott Barnhardt), the numbers are dynamite. Barnhardt is also enormously talented, but, unfortunately, turns Cosmo into a caricature, going way over the top with too much mugging. He needs to be toned down. Apparently Barnhardt (or director Roderick) have forgotten the warning that less is more. Sarah Jane Everman is an appealing Kathy, and Stacey Logan is delicious as the unfortunate Lina, the ditzy blonde without a voice (effectively recalling the late Judy Holliday). She has an unerring flair for the comic.
There is, in fact, good back-up support from the entire cast. And design work is also on target—particularly the dazzling period costumes of Angela Wendt. On the whole, a highly likeable show. Once more, it’s worth the trip to that wedding-cake-of-a-theater on the banks of the Connecticut River.
-- Irene Backalenick
May 17, 2007