Singin’ In The Rain is a classic for good reason. More than that, it’s a meta look at show business and the demand to keep up with technology and trend–for the characters within, dealing with “talkies” for the first time, and for the actual movie at its point on the cinematic timeline, color pictures. The film itself rose to the challenge, presenting a rainbow of splashy, colorful and entertaining scenes.
The actors in the Marriott Lincolnshire production, though, had an even more complex challenge: to present the show and all of its spectacle faithfully (while trying to live up to actors and dancers like Gene Kelly, Syd Charisse, Donald O’ Connor and Debbie Reynolds) and on the live stage.
I’m pleased to report that, with William Brown’s stellar direction, the cast did a wonderful job. Marriott’s stage-in-the-round setup was absolutely lovely for this, and the actors and director did a great job using every inch of the stage and filling it up with scene. Transitions could have been tricky in such a setting but were absolutely seamless. The production was particularly inventive in portraying the scenes from the movies being shot–creative strobe lighting and colors really made us feel suddenly immersed in black and white.
Don Lockwood and Lina Lemont, the fictitious big screen stars, are brought to life by Danny Gardner and Alexandra Palkovic, both big enough presences to really establish themselves in the roles and make them their own. Palkovic in particular sparkled as a comedienne, with a pitch perfect screech and the cold heart of a diva who doesn’t want to share the spotlight. Mary Michael Patterson, meanwhile, who took on the role of Kathy Selden, was every bit as gentle, demure and lovely as Reynolds, with a beautiful singing voice that was certainly enough to launch her Selden into stardom.
Danny Gardner, while not instantly seeming as affable, soon came into his own. Perhaps at first a bit too fast-talking and Mad Men-esque, he quickly shed any nerves to become a soft-spoken, silly and seriously in love Don Lockwood. With a fantastic singing voice and the dance chops to match, we were delighted every time a big musical number came up to see what he would do.
Some other standouts were studio exec RF Simpson, played by Jason Grimm, and Roscoe Dexter, played by Gabriel Ruiz. What could have been throwaway bit parts were played excellently, and the comedic talents of this duo and their chemistry brought big laughs during their somewhat infrequent stage time.
If there was anyone who had a difficult, nigh-impossible job in this play, it was Richard Riaz Yoder. Portraying Cosmo Brown comes with sky-high expectations of an actor in both the comedy and dance categories. Yoder proved to have wonderful dance abilities, and impressed particularly in the iconic “Make ‘Em Laugh” choreography, but never seemed to fully embody the frenetic silliness we’ve come to expect with the role. His energy was more that of an empathetic friend than one who could at any moment burst into song and dance and pull you in with him. We enjoyed Yoder, but wanted more.
Overall, though, we thought Singin’ in the Rain at the Marriott Lincolnshire was a huge success. It was beyond our imagining how they could take such a big film full of amazing sets and scenes and bring it to their own, smaller stage, but they stunned, and we were transported to the red carpet, Lockwood’s home, and even the rain-soaked streets in ways we just didn’t expect. Surprises and delights abound, and this is a play that is absolutely worth the trip to the suburbs to see.
Singin’ in the Rain runs at the Marriott Lincolnshire through December 31. Performances are Wednesday-Sunday. Tickets are $50-55. Follow this link to get tickets, and make a date with this musical.