Friday, April 14, 2006

Review: 'Singin' In The Rain' returns to live theater at Indianapolis

By FRANK and LINDA PHILLIPS
frankphi@hotmail.com
"Singin’ In the Rain" is one of the most energetic and happy musicals.
It tells the story of the girl singer trying to make it in Hollywood, of the male and female movie star leads trying to separate their fan magazine romance from their real lives, of the transition of the movie industry from silent movies to "talkies" after the success of "The Jazz Singer" starring Al Jolson.
The music is bright (for example, "Good, Morning," "Moses" and "Make ‘Em Laugh") and splashy (literally — the title song, "Singin’ In The Rain.")
One could hardly imagine any serious theater troupe mucking up "Singin’" and the Beef & Boards troupe certainly take the show seriously, while having a whole lotta fun.
For the first time, B&B has their double projection screen that adds a new dimension to the company’s interpretation of the show.
Movie lovers will remember the hilarious scenes where Lina Lamont (Natasha Drena), the shrill-voiced ("What am I? Dumb or somethin’?" ) silent movie star tries to ignore the microphone and the scene where the film and sound track get our of sync and Don Lockwood (Timothy Ford) (the silent screen lead) says in Lina’s shrill voice, "No, no, no" while Lina shakes her head and says, "Yes, yes, yes" in a definitely masculine voice. Those scenes are recreated on B&B’s overhead screens.
While Don gets to splash through the title song while it rains on stage, his lifelong friend and second banana, Cosmo Brown (Daniel Lee Robbins), gets to do pratfalls all through the show. We could not see evidence of extra padding and the actor has to be a mass of bruises after each performance. Not only can he fall down, but he and Don had the complicated dance steps nailed, no small feat for a live show.
Linda also liked the little German director, Roscoe Dexter (J. R. Stuart) and Doug King, who plays the diction teacher. We must mention the outstanding work of the young girl singer, Kristen J. Smith, who plays Kathy Selden.
If you saw B&B’s production a few years ago, you will be happy to know it is freshly blocked and the choreography is new as well.
We give it two thumbs up.
"I think it’s great," Linda said. "It’s a good musical comedy because it’s funny in parts. I’ll always like the rain on the stage."