BWW Review: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma's SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Showers Audiences with Nostalgia and Glam
What has been penned as the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" has been quite faithfully adapted for the stage. Lyric Theatre, under the direction of Michael Baron, gives life to Comden and Green's Singing in the Rain, currently playing at the Civic Center Music Hall to delightfully nostalgic audiences oohing and ahhing at each unforgettable scene, song, and dance from one of America's favorite, feel-good movie musicals.
If you are one of the few who hasn't had the pleasure of seeing the movie, Singin' in the Rain is a tale of screen starlet, Lina Lamont and leading man, Don Lockwood fighting to keep up with the ever-changing world of entertainment as it transitions from silent film to talkies to movie musical! This task doesn't seem as daunting to former vaudeville singer and dancer Lockwood, played with a natural golden age suave by Jeremy Benton. Even from the mid-orchestra level, there were times when I could have sworn I was watching a young Frank Sinatra attached to the lower body of a young Gene Kelly. Benton floats across the stage with grace and precision, with a voice to match, reminiscent of the bygone talents of a mid-century triple threat. And if that isn't enough, Benton will most definitely capture your heart in the Act 1 finale (with a little help from the tech crew) with his rendition of the title song, as he gleefully glides through a real, on-stage rainstorm!
The perfectly cast, Lexi Windsor, plays opposite Benton as the glittering screen diva Lina Lamont. Windsor's performance is dripping in glam and glitz, every nuanced moment perfectly timed and crafted with comedic prowess as Lamont struggles to face the reality that her talents might be best utilized in a silent medium. Best friend, musician, and former co-star from Lockwood's vaudeville days is Cosmo Brown, who serves as confidant and resident expert on all things musical as the studio makes the big switch. Cosmo is most famously known for the show-stopping number "Make 'Em Laugh," which transitioned quite enjoyably to the stage in Richard Riaz Yoder's performance. The athleticism alone required to swing around garment racks and jump over moving planks all while singing is to be commended. In the Debbie Reynold's role of to-be-discovered stage actress Kathy Sheldon, is Tatum Grace Ludlam. Her voice sparkled with a classic tone paired neatly with graceful and clean tap sounds. The re-creation of the legendary number "Good Morning" was a particularly standout moment for Benton, Yoder, and Ludlam. The trio paid a worthy homage to this number with synchronicity and joy, topped off with the successfully executed and iconic over-the-couch maneuver.
Choreographer, Lyn Kramer is responsible for bringing moments such as this to life with a nod to some of the original choreography paired with her original, classic style ranging from rhythmic tap, tango, to Broadway jazz. Wearing two hats, or maybe I should say two pairs of pants, Kramer also fills the role of studio producer R.F. Simpson, typically portrayed by a male. Her performance is one of the successful, surreptitious political moments in this production. Other standout performances include Andi Dema as studio director, Roscoe Dexter and Phoebe Butts as Hollywood announcer and gossip, Dora Bailey. There is no part too small for Dema and Butts, who brought life and detail to every moment.
Rounding out the cast is an ensemble of skilled dancers and singers, who particularly shine parading Jeffrey Meek's costumes in the "Broadway Melody," especially ballet soloist, Bianca Bulgarelli. Yet again, Meek has outdone himself with a gorgeous array of multi-colored, feathered and sequined, art deco inspired looks, slightly teasing to upstage the performances. Finger-waved wigs in many styles serve as the perfect pairing to complete Meek's looks, coiffed by Jo Weaver. A special bravo to Brian Hamilton in his inaugural performance as music director and conductor, who led the orchestra with ease and expertise.
Whether you are a long time fan of Singing in the Rain or you have never had the joy of seeing it, Lyric Theatre's production will transport you back in time with a satisfying evening of entertainment, nostalgia, highlighting truly skilled, triple threat performers. And if that isn't enough to convince you, come for the rain!
For more information or tickets, click here.
Photos courtesy of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and K. Talley Photography