A few years ago, Peg and I saw a production of “Singin’ in the Rain” at the Fifth Avenue in Seattle and we loved every minute of it. Now, Tacoma Musical Theatre is offering up its version. We had seats four rows back from the stage for the two of us and two granddaughters – who had never seen the movie and no clue about what to expect.
I don’t know how many times we’ve seen the film version of “Singin’ in the Rain” since 1952. As a child, I saw it on the big screen with my parents and Peg and I have watched and re-watched the streaming version. Now with online film production suppliers like IMDB, it can be seen almost anytime you want to feel the rhythmic joy of tap dancing with a well written storyline. BUT a movie is not live and live is so personal. There’s no glass divide between the audience and the performers. Seeing the story unfold with real people just helps drive home the beautiful feeling of entertainment, by real people, just a few yards from your chair.
This is the 70th anniversary of the production which was written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green (book), music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Comden and Green ruled comedy, singing, and dancing on Broadway for ages. Peg and I took two granddaughters to TMP on Sunday afternoon. We gave them a short . . . very short . . . intro about the storyline and we were off to the races. Not quite off, but building up to it.
John Kelleher did a wonderful job as the music director and John Chenault did the same with the lighting. The set designers Dennis Kurtz, Eric Furuheim, and Jon Douglas-Rake kept it simple. With lots of location changes, much of the action was in front of the curtain.
Director/Choreographer Megan Hicks probably had the toughest job. In one dance scene I kept trying to count how many dancers were on the stage at one time. They were always on the move. My count? Somewhere between 13 & 19?
The musical starts with the clowning around song and dance number “Fit as a Fiddle”, which tells the story of the friendship of Don Lockwood (Mauro Bozzo) and Cosmo Brown (G Alvarado). We loved their matching green checked suits and straw hats.
Mauro Bozzo played the part of Don Lockwood, which was created for Gene Kelly . . . but with a number of inches taller for Tacoma. The program mentioned Mauro had been in Tacoma Little Theatre’s Clue and A Chorus Line, as well as Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s hilarious The Drowsy Chaperone. We saw each one, so were very familiar with his work. He did a very good job and danced very well, including the signature number, “Singin’ in the Rain”. We were a little disappointed with the minor amount of rain falling for the big classic number but realized the complexity of water spilling on stage. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Peg and I know about rain. I would have liked to see more rain but would have turned down any request to clean it up during intermission.
G Alvarado played Cosmo Brown, the buddy of Don Lockwood. G did a great job of not only dancing, but adding the humor that was provided by Donald O’Connor in the original production. I would have liked to have seen G do the Make ‘Em Laugh original ending but that’s just being picky. Dancing up a door and jumping through a “wall” is a big logistic nightmare. He did an excellent job.
The romance comes about with a bit of competition and one upmanship between film star Don Lockwood and aspiring actress Kathy Seldon who comes out of a cake and leads the Hollywood dancers in “All I Do is Dream of You”.
Erin Johnson played Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds in the film) and did a very well with both acting and dancing, besides being cute as a bug. She held her own against Mauro Bozzo and G Alvarado, just like Debbie did with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Erin is new to the area, so we hope to see more of her in other local productions.
Brynne Geiszler as Lina Lamont had the whiney voice and harsh intonations of the original actress, Jean Hagen. She had one of the most interesting parts in that she had to play a mean-spirited character and selfish character who needed to keep her terrible voice and personality hidden from her fans. Brynne did a great job of making the movie people both fear and hate her.
Much of the humor in the musical comes via Lina Lamont. She finally ends up with a huge corsage on her chest perhaps hiding several microphones. (“I can’t make love to a bush!”)
The film honchos and crew featuring Dale Bowers, Erik Furuheim, and Miguel Torres all did the comic pulling their hair out and frustration during the film production nicely. Who wouldn’t with Lina Lamont and her difficult personality! In preparation for producing talking pictures, the main characters are giving elocution training so they didn’t appear laughable.
“Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously” launches one of the best musical numbers of the show. Take a look at the small wooden desk in the background. Imagine both Don and Cosmo tap dancing together on its top.
One of the best singing and dancing numbers is “Good Morning” featuring Cosmo, Don, and Kathy. The singing is right on and the tap dancing was perfect including the three of them jumping on the couch and upending it so they can collapse to relax.
It was nice to hear and see Josh Wingerter with his tenor voice . . . a long way from “Drowsy Chaperone”, another TMP musical hit. His number is a throw-back to the days of Florenz Ziegfeld and his Ziegfeld Follies from 1907 to 1931 which featured lots of beautiful girls surrounding a tenor singer.
The finale featured the entire cast in yellow slickers with umbrellas. I think the entire audience stood for the ovation.
Yes, our two granddaughters loved the production and are looking forward to Rocky Horror, the next production.
The musical runs through October 9th. Order your tickets here – https://tmp.org/index.php/2022-2023-tmp-mainstage-single-tickets/
I agree with TMP wholeheartedly – Singin’ in the Rain is the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.
Excellent action photography provided by Kat Dollarhide.