Joyous ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ caps Reagle season
WALTHAM — When live theater is at its best, the energy flows back and forth between the audience and the performers, and they feed off each other.
That was the case at a recent performance as the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston capped its 46th season with a joyous production of “Singin’ in the Rain” at the Robinson Theatre.
As Hollywood made the faster-than-light transition from silent movies to “the talkies” in 1927 after the advent of “The Jazz Singer,” the musical — based on the iconic Warner Brothers movie that starred Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds — chronicles the changes that hit the silent movie stars of the era such as Don Lockwood (Sean Quinn) and Lina Lamont (Noreen Hughes).
On the scene of his latest triumph — “the Royal Rascal” — Lockwood flashes back to his beginning days as a performer an d his vaudeville days with close friend Cosmo Brown (Edward Tolve).
And while the flashback scenes are all well and good — there’s strong chemistry between Quinn and Tolve and Tolve’s Brown shows a deft touch for physical comedy in “Make ‘em Laugh” — the production doesn’t truly take off until Gillian Mariner Gordon as Kathy Selden lights up the stage with the first bars of “You Are My Lucky Star.”
Gordon’s lovely voice and stage presence have shown themselves in previous RMT productions, but this is a break-out role alongside other solid professionals.
But perhaps the most difficult and demanding role in the show isn’t any of the ones described above — it’s that of Lamont, the silent movie star with the determinedly off-key speaking and singing voice whose career is threatened by the emergence of “the talkies.”
It requires acting chops, strong comedic timing, concentration in staying off-key, and the ability to stay in character while putting over a number such as “What’s Wrong With Me?” and Hughes is spot-on in her performance.
An assortment of old pros fills other key parts, including Daren Kelly as the perpetually put-upon director Roscoe Dexter, R. Glen Michell as studio mogul R.F. Simpson and Beth Martin Pierce as a diction coach facing a hilarious, monumental challenge in Lamont.
The choreography by Eileen Grace and Kirby Ward will lift you out of your seats, including such iconic production numbers such as “Make ‘em Laugh,” “Good Morning,” and, of course “Singin in the Rain.”
Ward was a triple threat here — he also directed masterfully and developed the film segments that are both hilariously and skillfully done.
Katelyn Prominski offers a superb dance partnership with Quinn as “The Girl in the Green Dress” in the blockbuster second-half production number, “Gotta Dance” /“Broadway Melody.”
Yes, it will rain not once but twice on stage and it will work flawlessly, which is good news considering if it didn’t, it would be a danger to both the orchestra in its pit and the second act.
Stay in your seats for a rousing finale when the entire ensemble dons the iconic Debbie Reynolds raincoat and umbrella for a reprise of “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Dan Rodriguez does his usual fine job in the area of conducting/musical direction.
Producing Artistic Director Bob Eagle and the show’s cast and crew have infused this “Singin in the Rain” with heart, soul and boundless amounts of enthusiasm, and the audience at a recent performance repaid in kind. And that’s what theater is all about.
The Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston production of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Screenplay and Adaptation by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed; Based on the MGM film by special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc. Directed by Kirby Ward. Choreography by Eileen Grace and Kirby Ward. Film sequences by Kirby Ward. Lighting design by David Wilson. Musical direction by Dan Rodriguez. At the Robinson Theatre through Aug. 17. http://www.Reagle MusicTheatre.com.