It is hard to come up with a more nostalgic, sentimental film from the lavish movie musical era than “Singin’ in the Rain.” With the genius dance moves of Gene Kelly, the comedic timing of Donald O’Connor, and the genuine spark of a young Debbie Reynolds, the film is a stunning achievement from beginning to end. So how could a community theatre ever capture the extravagance of such a masterpiece?
Very well apparently, as proved by 2nd Star Productions’ “Singin’ in the Rain,” directed by Allison Erskine, based on the classic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film running through October 20 at the Bowie Playhouse.
Right at the start, the audience is treated to not only a run-through of the beloved songs of the film by the able orchestra’s overture, but the ensemble joyfully singing and dancing their way through each of the memorable tunes.
… feel-good show for the entire family, proving once again that old musicals can still be magical even in this day and age.
Set in the transition time of the 1920’s between silent and talking movies, the production cleverly presented “scenes” from the show’s famous duo Lockwood and Lamont’s silent films with black and white videos of this cast in costume portraying the schmaltzy scenes of hero, heroine, and villains.
Near the beginning of the production, as leading man Don reminisces about his path to stardom, the two child actors portraying a young Don and sidekick Cosmo, Malachi Sillaman and Brannon Titus, nearly steal the show with their joyful antics.
At the party scene where head of the studio R.F. Simpson reveals the news about the start of “talkies,” we hear for the first time the nasal, “nails on the chalkboard” voice pitched perfectly by Katrina Sillaman as Lina Lamont. Her comedic instincts were only outdone by her vocals in the one song not in the movie, Lina’s “What’s Wrong with Me?” where she concludes it should be “What’s wrong with YOU?”
The other female lead in the production is Emma Godfrey, playing Kathy Sheldon, the Debbie Reynolds’ character and love interest of leading man Don. Godfrey’s first few scenes are simply speaking roles, but when she is called out of a group production number to sing a solo and starts the song “You are my Lucky Star” the audience seemed startled by the beauty of Godfrey’s vocal talent.
(It is ironic that Debbie Reynolds’ voice on the songs she was dubbing for the Lina Lamont character in the move was not her actual voice but that of experienced Hollywood singer Betty Noyes. Godfrey has the same warm, rich tone that even rivals Noyes’.)
The male lead playing Kelly’s Don Lockwood is Jeffrey Hawkins who has the same rugged handsomeness and is a worthy vocalist and talented dancer who has a real workout with all the action throughout this show. His chemistry with Godfrey was palpable during the tune “You were Meant for Me.”
With a character like the quirky sidekick Cosmo, you have to have a special kind of actor, and Robbie Dinsmore with his comedic timing and stage presence fit the bill. His “Make ’em Laugh” number had the audience doing just that. (Performing the choreography similar to the movie while trying to sing that number was a highlight of the evening.)
The choreography of this production by Andrew Gordon was amazingly familiar, with special nods to the film, including favorites like the dancing raincoats in “Good Morning,” the Cyd Charisse sultry dance in “Broadway Melody” stunningly performed by Debra Kidwell, and Hawkins splashing around in the rain (yes, there was rain) in the title number.
A talented cast (including a very busy ensemble), beautiful costumes of the time period, and a finale number with everyone using bright yellow umbrellas made this production a feel-good show for the entire family, proving once again that old musicals can still be magical even in this day and age.
Running Time: 2.5 hours. with one 15-minute intermission.
“Singin’ in the Rain” runs through October 20, 2018 at the Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park, 100 White Marsh Park Dr, Bowie, Maryland 20715. For more information, click here.