Review: Singin’ In The Rain at Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre
- OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Beverly MA - Singin’ In The Rain is the classic MGM film brought to life on the stage with the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. The story takes place during Hollywood’s golden age when silent films were all the rage. That is, until new technology allowed the big movie studios to start creating talkies for the first time. Learning how to capture sound while filming, adds plenty of comedy to this musical that focuses on a pair of silent film stars: Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont as they venture into the new and unfamiliar territory of the talkies. Don, by chance, meets Kathy Selden, a young actress working to break into show business, and while the tabloids believe him to be engaged to his co-star Lina, his heart is pulling him in Kathy’s direction. His longtime friend and vaudeville partner Cosmo Brown helps Kathy land a job in their new film and steer clear of leading lady Lina. Of course nothing goes quite as planned and bit of wacky chaos ensues much to the delight of the audience.
Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre production was directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford. It is not the easiest musical to be performed in-the-round and while Stafford was creative with his staging and choreography, it was not as well executed by the cast as it could have been; especially some of the tap routines. The cast was, however, enthusiastic throughout the show.
I must commend the scenic and lighting designer Jack Mehler for his use of three projector screens that showed the silent and talkie motion pictures that went along with the storyline of the show. They were nicely utilized and the clips themselves were amusing to watch. The technical and creative team behind this production did a great job not only with the screens and other set pieces, but in creating a way for it to rain on stage without soaking the audience and the orchestra pit or flooding the stage to the point where the performers would slip and fall. They wonderfully and impressively brought the magic of this show to life.
The show overall was enjoyable. Still, opening night jitters could be seen in a few of the early numbers in which the dance steps were not cleanly executed, the dancers were not unified and they lacked connection. Specifically, in the Argentine Tango bit, the couple lacked a strong frame, and the stylistic choreography could have been danced sharper and stronger. Strong performances by Sean McGibbon, as Cosmo, in “Make ‘Em Laugh”, and McGibbon and Mark Evans, as Don, in “Moses Supposes” quickly made up for earlier weaknesses. In “Make ‘Em Laugh” McGibbon was fantastic as he performed acts of physical comedy and juggling in addition to dancing and singing. In “Moses Supposes” McGibbon and Evans performed a hilarious and fast tap duet with clear sounds and clean rhythmic execution. Both gentlemen nailed the comedy, the lyrics and fast tapping throughout the number and received robust applause at the end. It was certainly a highlight of act one.
Mark Evans was dashing as Don Lockwood and his performance got better and better as the show progressed. His vocals and dancing were wonderful in “You Were Meant for Me” and the act one closer “Singin’ In The Rain”. Tessa Grady was lovely as Kathy Selden with a beautiful voice and graceful dancing. Her performance of “Good Morning” with Don and Cosmo was energetic and the trio shined during this well-known number. Studio executive R.F. Simpson and film director Roscoe Dexter were amusingly played by Steve Brady and David Coffee. The duo was great together with strong comedic timing and sharp dialogue.
Lina Lamont, played by Emily Stockdale, was a fierce force to be reckoned with; one who took charge and wouldn’t let anyone stand in the way of what she wanted. Stockdale’s characterization and vocal performance was fantastic. She played the role just right and perfectly performed the high and annoying vocal tones of Lina. A favorite scene for the audience was the one in which Lina learned to use the microphone for the first time while filming and it was very entertaining to watch. As Lina, Stockdale delivered a standout performance that brought the audience quickly to their feet during her bow.
Another standout performance was given by Sean McGibbon as Cosmo Brown. He is a true triple threat and was strong throughout as a dancer, singer and comedian. Taking on a role originated by the great Donald O’Connor in the film is no easy task, but McGibbon and his boundless talent took on the role and made it his own. He is an entertainer through and through and is sure to be an audience favorite. Not only did he meet my expectations by incredibly performing this charismatic character, but he surpassed them. His performance is not to be missed!
A full cast encore performance of “Singin’ In The Rain” commenced after the bows and was complete with yellow raincoats, umbrellas and of course a little rain. This light-hearted and romantic musical comedy will certainly have you smiling and possibly singing and dancing your way out of the theatre. © Singin’ In The Rain plays Tuesdays-Sundays through September 4th. For tickets or more information visit www.nsmt.org , call 978-232-7200 or visit the box office in person at 62 Dunham Rd. Beverly, MA.
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