BWW Review: Candlelight Pavilion Is SINGIN' Joyously IN THE RAIN
Singin' in the Rain/based on the classic MGM film/screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Green/songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre/directed & choreographed by DJ Gray/musical director: Douglas Austin/through June 2
Here's the scoop for those newer generation theatre and movie fans who do not remember 1952's blockbuster hit film Singin' in the Rain. Directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green and costars Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds all contributed to making it the smash that it was... and still is...on cable like TCM. The zany lightweight hit transferred to the stage in the early 80s and showed the craziness that may have happened when the big movie studios were transitioning from silents to talkies in the late 20s. Now in a fun-filled revival at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, it's all brought back to vibrant theatrical life by skilled director DJ Gray and a delicious company of triple threats through June 2.
The stage version follows the screenplay to the letter. Fictional silent film romantic stars Don Lockwood (Wesley Alfvin) and Lina Lamont (Krista Curry), who are professional partners only, at least by his account, are being interviewed on the red carpet in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre at the start of an opening of their latest endeavor. Lockwood relates how he and Cosmo Brown (Andrew J. Koslow) were boyhood friends who stayed together as dance partners on the way up the ladder to success. When Kathy Selden (Colette Peters) unwillingly saves Lockwood from a mob of screaming fans, there is an instant attraction between them, but she is aware of Lamont even though he insists she is not a love interest. Selden ignores his advances and at an after party tries to hit him in the face with a cream pie, but accidentally hits Lamont instead. A furious Lamont has her thrown out. But Kathy stays on Lockwood's mind and when he finally finds her, she is also working at Monumental Pictures in another film ("You Were Meant For Me''). As the studio switches to talking pictures, Lamont just cannot cut it with her irritatingly high-pitched tones. In fact, she cannot even learn to use a microphone - providing some very comedic moments. Eventually, Selden replaces her by dubbing in both dialogue and songs, unbeknownst of course to Lamont. When she does find out via a snitch, what appeared to be a dumb girl turns into a pretty shrewd and conniving businesswoman who insists that she be the studio's exclusive star and that Selden stay on as her backup, hurting Selden's own promising career. Alas when the audience hears Lamont's natural tones, they boo her and scream for Selden's multi-talents instead.
Comden and Green's delicious writing allows for some wonderful comedy onstage. Then as you witness the stage actors on film on a drop-down screen in their final product, this whole transformation serves to doubly enhance audience enjoyment. This is truly a vicious backstage story not only of the stars of that era but also of the studio executives like R.F. Simpson (John Nisbet), director Roscoe Dexter (Brandon Kallen) and the coaches that were hired to assist the stars make the transition. Spend more money to make money and to save their asses... all in the guise of pleasing the movie-going public. The petty as well as humongous struggles are shown via the entertaining script as well as through Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed's memorable score which includes: "You Stepped Out of a Dream", "All I Do Is Dream of You", the infectious "Make 'Em Laugh", "You Are My Lucky Star", the title song, toe-tappin' "Broadway Melody" and the upbeat "Good Morning". Gray, who choreographs as well as directs ever so lovingly, recreates a wonderful street scene in the rain for the tile song with a spectacular turn by Alfvin and some equally dynamic dance movements for the three actors in"Good Morning". The sets by Mitch Gill are simple but effective, and the costumes by The Theatre Company coordinated by Merrill Grady are colorfully evocative of the period.
The ensemble are delightful. Alfvin is ever so charming as the leading song and dance man. Curry is deliciously droll as Lamont. Peters as Selden is the adorable girl.next.door and has a lovely singing style. Koslow is a scene stealer as Cosmo, not only a super dancer but quite the comic actor. He uses some wonderful facial expressions. In smaller roles, Angela Rose Pierson stands out as the boisterous reporter on the red carpet and later on as Lamont's stuffy dialect coach. Kudos as well to the ensemble who dance and tap up a storm throughout.
Take the trip to Claremont to see Singin' in the Rain! Most matinee performances are already sold out, so reserve now. It will surely put a smile on your face.
As for Act One, the food and service are spectacular as always. The Bollinger cut of tri-tip is still a favorite and on the $6 drink menu don't miss Good Morning, a scrumptious sangria, or Moses Supposes, a martini style concoction or Lucky Star, if your tastebuds prefer an Irish style coffee.
(photo credit: Demitrios Katsantonis)