BWW Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Splashes Tons of Tap Dancing Fun into La Mirada
Even before it opened this month, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment must have known they had a hit production on their hands with SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, based on the greatest movie musical of all time with screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Green and songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.
Adapted from the 1952 movie of the same name which starred Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen, the plot closely adheres to the original story set in 1920s Hollywood during the waning days of the Silent Screen era, focusing on romantic leading man, Don Lockwood, his tap dancing sidekick Cosmo Brown, aspiring actress Kathy Selden, and Lockwood's platinum blonde leading lady Lina Lamont, whose less-than-dulcet vocal tones make her an unlikely candidate for stardom in the new talking pictures.
First premiering on the London stage in 1983, the stage musical SINGIN' IN THE RAIN was dramatically revamped for Broadway in 1985 and went on win Comden and Green the Tony Award for Best Book for a Musical. And with hit songs including "You Stepped Our of a Dream," "All I Do is Dream of You," "Make 'Em Laugh," "You Are My Lucky Star," "You Were Meant for Me," and "Good Morning" just to name a few, with the right cast members in place no doubt appreciative audiences will always flock to performances.
Certainly that seems to be the case for the fresh new production directed and choreographed by Spencer Liff (Emmy nominee for TV's "So You Think You Can Dance" and Broadway's Head Over Heels, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Falsettos), associate director is Cynthia Ferrer (original "Kathy Selden" in the first National Tour of Singin' in the Rain) with musical direction by Keith Harrison conducting an outstanding orchestra which lifted the hits to the heights along with its triple-threat talented stars Michael Starr as Don Lockwood, Kimberly Immanuel as Kathy Selden, Brandon Burks as Cosmo Brown, and Sara King as Lina Lamont.
Of course, anyone who has seen Gene Kelly's famous "Singin' in the Rain" tap dance number from the hit movie will be expecting to see the same rainstorm onstage during Don Lockwood's tap dance ode to his new love. And fear not, there is plenty of rain, not just once but twice, during the performance which had the audience applauding with wonder and delight. I applaud Michael Starr for his willingness to get totally drenched as he athletically navigates the show-stopping choreography so necessary in this iconic number.
And just as is true today, Lockwood has to deal with a fussy director and money-minded studio head, comically represented in the show by Jamie Torcellini at director Roscoe Dexter and Peter Van Norden as studio owner R.F. Simson, with ensemble members taking on his necessary assistants' roles.
With tons of knock-'em-dead dance routines by ensemble members (who also appear as supporting characters in the show) Ethan Daniel Corbett, Justin Charles Cowden, Maggie Darago, Kelley Dorney, Chaz Feuerstine, Veronica Gutierrez, Grant Hodges, Adam Lendermon (a standout as a Diction Coach) , Bruce Merkle, Tayler Mettra, Shanon Mari Mills, Theresa Murray, Cheyenne Omani, Clarice ORdaz, Samuel Shea, DJ Smith, Rodrigo Varandas and Breanne Wilson, all of whom had more incredibly fast costume changes than I could count, and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is the perfect musical entertainment for every member of your family.
And while I applaud the color-blind casting choices, even though several lines should have been updated to reflect the true personas onstage, please put aside any concerns you may have when seeing the show about its imaginary 1920s time-period racial equality and just enjoy the pure entertainment of every scene. With such talented triple-threat talents as Starr, Immanuel, Burks and King burning up the stage as they sing and dance their way through forming a team to save one of the first "talkies" from financial disaster, no doubt you will be as enamored of this production as I was from start to finish.
Technical credits are first-class from John Iacovelli's constantly moving scenic design, colorful lighting design by Steven Young, sound design by Julie Ferrin, impressive time period projection design by David Murakami, and fabulously ever-changing costume design by Shon LeBlanc with hair/wig/makeup design by EB Bohks, highlighted by outrageously fun 1920s silent era, over-the-top ensembles.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN performances run through Sunday, May 12, 2019 on Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30pm; Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 2:00pm & 8:00pm & Sundays at 2:00pm at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada. There will be an Open-Captioned performance on Saturday, May 4 at 2pm and an ASL-interpreted performance on Saturday, May 11 at 2pm.
Talkbacks with the cast and creative team will be on Wednesday, April 24 and Wednesday, May 8. Tickets range from $20 - $94 and can be purchased at La Mirada Theatre's website, www.lamiradatheatre.com or by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box Office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. $15 Student Tickets available for the first 15 performances of the production. Onsite parking is free.Photo credit: Austin Bauman