Classic Film Musical On The Barn Stage PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 August 2016 17:40

It’s difficult to recreate a classic, but that’s what theater companies all over the world have been doing — or trying to do — since the M-G-M musical “Singin’ in the Rain” hit the silver screen in 1952.

Singin' in the Rain The Barn Theatre Augusta MIThe latest recreation opened Tuesday evening at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI.

Actually, the theatrical version didn’t happen overnight. It was 31 years after the film that the songs of Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, combined with the book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, made its debut in London, followed by a Broadway production in 1985.

Like that famous battery-operated bunny, it just keeps on, refusing to be stayed by one of the most difficult first act finales in live theater history (especially for small venues) — a stage full of rain.

Obviously, no matter what the level of imitation, audiences keep on lovin’ it, and The Barn production — headed by Jamey Grisham as Don Lockwood, Hannah Eakin as Kathy Selden, Sam Balzac as Cosmo Brown and Melissa Cotton Hunter as Lina Lamont — is no exception. And it works hard to keep that love alive.

Singin in the Rain The Barn Theatre nAugusta MIHunter doubles as choreographer with director Hans Friedrichs also scenic designer and on stage as Don’s diction coach. In fact, the entire company is “on,” most playing several characters.

Friedrichs’ set is definitely era-setting, with Erte`-style calla lily sconce cutouts and pedestal palms saying “1920s” without a word. Carly Heathcote’s costumes reinforce the aura with ample helpings of sequins and flapper fringe.

For many, the most unforgettable character is the dumb blonde silent screen star who destroys her image whenever she opens her mouth. Hunter’s Lina captures the “nice house, nobody home” persona of the glamour girl who only believes what she reads in fan magazines. Her solo “What’s Wrong With Me?” (added for the stage version), says it all. She does a good job of delivering Lina’s “nails on a blackboard” voice but her sometimes too-rapid-fire delivery makes it difficult to get much of her dialogue.

Gresham and Balzac have the unenviable assignment of making the audience forget their film counterparts. The former is The Barn choreographer and sometime leading man. He most resembles the perennial juvenile with a wide grin and wavy hair. To his credit, he is unfazed by the literally gallons of water through which he must dance. Even when his upturned umbrella dumps water on him, he keeps on smiling … and dancing … and singing.. Unfortunately, his light baritone voice is plagued by an ever-widening vibrato.

Balzac’s long arms and legs are most reminiscent of the late Ray Bolger and he handles the famous “Make ‘Em Laugh” sequence awkwardly but with definite promise. He and Gresham make a good team in “Fit As A Fiddle” and “Moses.”

They add Eakin for another show-stopper, “Good Morning.” She sings and dances well and delivers two lovely ballads, “Would You” and “You Are My Lucky Star.”

Singin in the Rain  The Barn Theatre  Augusta MIIn addition to Lina’s “lament,” the theatrical score has one non-film song, “You Stepped Out of A Dream,” sung by Lockwood and the ensemble for absolutely no reason at all — but, hey, this is a musical comedy, right? Disbelief suspended!

Barn veteran Eric Parker is properly bombastic as studio owner B.F. Simpson and John Jay Espino is frustrated director Roscoe Dexter, a cross between Cecil B. DeMille (costume) and Eric von Stroheim (accent) … only in Hollywood!

Of course, all’s well that ends well with everyone getting what’s(or who) is coming to him/her and the audience getting another dose of rain as the entire company reprises the title tune all the while — what else — singing and dancing and smiling!

It’s that kind of a show!

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN plays through Aug. 28 in the theater on M96 between Galesburg and Augusta, MI. For show times and reservations, call (269) 731-4121.

(NOTE: Next up is the season-ending, one-week-only comedy “Red, White and Tuna” with returning Barn favorites Scott Burkell and Joe Aiello.)

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 17:55
 

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