Monday, November 21, 2016

Tapping and “Singing in the Rain” at Village

Singing in the Rain (Mark Kitaoka)
Singing in the Rain
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through December 31, 2016
Everett: January 6-29, 2016

Village Theatre has perfectly cast its tap-happy production of Singing in the Rain! The entire ensemble has great energy and many of the roles have just the right actor on stage for it.

You have seen the movie numerous times. It’s a new experience on a theater stage, especially when people must perform all the way through what might have been many takes for the screen version.

The storyline is about the advent of the “talkies” when silent film suddenly finds itself dead in an instant, once audiences find out technology is capable of melding voice with picture. Lockwood and Lamont are a famous silent film duo and the studio has made a love story out of their relationship, for publicity only. With the advent of The Jazz Singer, they need to make a talkie, but Lina Lamont (the supremely funny and on-point Jessica Skerritt) has a terrible, screechy voice and can’t sing or act a lick. What to do?

Veteran favorites like Bobbi Kotula, who imbues every one of the several characters with her signature fun, and Jeff Steitzer, whose delivery as R.J. Simpson, head of the studio, is comic gold, are on hand. Matt Wolfe, Greg McCormick Allen, and Pamela Turpin also bolster key moments.

Younger people, veteran ensemble players, who have not yet had a chance to lead are front and center. John David Scott plays Don Lockwood in an enchanting, Gene Kelly homage. Mallory King does a great ingénue, like Debbie Reynolds. Gabriel Corey gets a chance to show his great comic chops as side-kick Cosmo Brown. Corey’s antics on Make ‘Em Laugh are on-point and exhaustingly funny.

If you’re wondering if the iconic song would be diluted…have no fear! They surely make it rain on stage! Buckets and buckets of rain fall that Scott has to dance through with an umbrella. Katy Tabb’s solid choreography helps the piece maintain interest, despite having to be danced only from right to left and left to right – the limitations of a stage production.

Director Steve Tomkins knows exactly what he wants and get it. Music directors Tim Symons and Bruce Monroe fielded an orchestra that sounds lush and full of horns. The costuming by Cynthia Savage is gorgeous and period-apt. The chorus girl costumes were sometimes absolutely sumptuous.

A very “easy” scenic design by Bill Forrester with little solid set and lots of flying in backdrops made scene changes virtually unnoticeable. Lights by Michael Gilliam and sound by Brent Warwick were similarly so well executed that they just “happened,” like life.

A huge bravo to the technicians, all, behind the movie shorts that captured the feeling of what would have been on screen so well. The clunking of actors’ feet, the heartbeats and the sound or lack thereof were all hysterical in the “talky” snippet.

Overall, this is a fun show that is good for the whole family. It is a bit on the slow side at 2 ½ hours. But audiences are filling seats and having a great time.

For more information, go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-392-2202.