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BWW Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at Omaha Community Playhouse

BWW Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at Omaha Community Playhouse

There's forecasted rain at the Omaha Community Playhouse as SINGIN' IN THE RAIN opens for a June run.

The musical, with book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown, was adapted from the 1952 film of the same name. The original Broadway production opened in 1985 and closed less than a year later. After an overseas run, Weinstein Live Entertainment announced their intention to bring the musical back to New York as recently as 2017, but plans were scrapped.

The story takes place during the silent screen era. Don Lockwood is a big Hollywood star who grew up side by side with his pal Cosmo Brown as musicians and dancers. Lockwood is cast alongside the blonde bombshell Lina Lamont. He endures their phony romance cooked up as a publicity stunt, while Lamont believes it is real. Their new film is headed for failure. When "The Jazz Singer" comes out as a talking picture and is a huge hit, Cosmo gives studio producer R. F. Simpson (Rob Baker) the idea of converting the failing film into a musical. The problem is: Lamont can't sing. In fact, she can't speak without hurting the ears of everyone within range of her squeaky voice. Enter Kathy Seldon, a sweet wannabe actress of stage (not film) whose melodic voice becomes the behind the scenes voice of Lamont. Romance buds. Hijinks and hilarity follow.

The highlight of the Broadway production and film is a deluge of rain in which Lockwood dances. Omaha Community Playhouse creates a system of pipes and a water tank to make the rain pour with realistic effect as Nate Wasson (Lockwood) swings around the lamppost in Gene Kelly's iconic scene from the film. Kudos to OCP director, Kimberly Faith Hickman, and her imaginative production staff for this memorable vision.

Wasson, who comes to Omaha from the stages of Georgia, has previously performed with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan. His portrayal of Don Lockwood is credible. Wasson's microphone seemed to be going in and out in volume during this performance, so it wasn't always easy to connect to him. Lempke Plank's lovely soprano tone and serene stage personality make for a innocent aspiring actress Selden who shows a bit of backbone when necessary.

Cosmo Brown (J. Isaiah Smith) and Lina Lamont (Cathy Hirsch) bring comic relief to the show. Smith's acrobatics, pulled faces, and over the top hijinks crack up the audience. Hirsch uses nuances in her facial expressions, subtleties in her movements, and silly voices. Both are crowd favorites. Smith's number, "Make 'Em Laugh," and Hirsch's "What's Wrong With Me?" are worth the price of admission on their own. Hirsch is simultaneously adorable and hilarious in the diction scenes and when trying to speak into the microphone.

Andrew Karolski and Brodhi McClymont who play Young Don and Young Cosmo, are super cute in their dance duet.

Costume designer Lindsay Pape makes some interesting choices. Her color palette suggests the tropics with the soft shades of aqua, coral, peach, and a splash of lime green. One dress appears to have large white raindrops tacked to the ruffled skirt. Lina Lamont's dresses---fabulous!

Of special note are the black and white videos produced by OnPxl's Matt Bross and Chad Eacker which lend a note of authenticity to the show. Nora Shelton stands out as a dancer throughout the production.

Rain or shine, OCP will have you singin' as you leave the theater.

Photo Credit: Robertson Photography


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From This Author Christine Swerczek