Review: Singin’ In The Rain – this cast works hard to entertain

The rain fell in Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl last night during the Theatre Under the Stars production of Singin’ in the Rain but it was through a little theatre magic and not because of our unpredictable Vancouver weather.  And while this second show of TUTS’ 64th season can’t quite live up to its source material, the cast works hard to entertain.

No matter how you slice it, a stage musical from a movie musical which is a satirical look at the movies is destined to be problematic.  Couple that with the almost iconic associations to the original film version and it is not hard to see how a production of Singin’ in the Rain could be almost as unpleasant as allowing Lina Lamont to talk in The Duelling Cavalier.  And while this TUTS show is far from unpleasant, it does go to prove that perhaps some shows should remain in their original medium.

To his credit Director Shel Piercy does try to overcome some of the inherent issues of this play about movies by using a large screen projection at the back of the stage which is used to project some of the “filming” going on during the soundstage action.  He even gives us a few funny scenes from The Duelling Cavalier itself.

As for the inevitable association and comparison to Kelly, O’Connor and Reynolds, I know I will take some heat but let’s be honest, how can images of these three Hollywood golden era icons not be dancing (pun intended) in our heads as we watch the show?  Kelly’s version of the title song, O’Connor’s brilliantly comedic take on “Make ‘Em Laugh”, and the trio’s very clever “Good Morning”, will forever be etched in our collective pop-culture minds.  There is a reason it was named #1 of the 25 best movie musicals in American film history by the American Film Institute and the title song is listed as #3 in their list of the greatest American movie music.

To give the cast credit here, apart from perhaps one performance, they did seem to be trying to rise above any comparisons to their cinematic counterparts and truly make these characters their own.  And there is little doubt that this is a talented group: they all can belt out a tune and dance. The women seem to fare a little bit better than the men as Cailin Stadnyk does a good job as the nasally Lina Lamont and Lauren Bowler’s Kathy is just the right amount of feisty ingénue.  I did find Minor trying too desperately hard to be O’Connor and while Lindsay Sterk has a nice enough singing voice he didn’t fare so well in what should have been the first act showstopper.

The cast of Theatre Under the Stars production of Singin' in the Rain
The cast of the Theatre Under The Stars production of Singin’ in the Rain.

 

Of course, the trademark TUTS chorus is in fine form here once again with an unbridled energy that definitely helps.  The “Singin’ in the Rain Reprise” that opens act two is particularly fun to watch due in no small part to the work of Choreographer Shelley Stewart Hunt.

Chris Sinosich’s costumes are once again a delight (she is also Costume Designer for TUTS’ other show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).  And of course, special kudos has to go to the team that made it rain.

Each year I am asked “if I can only see one show at TUTS which one should I see?”  My recommendation for this year: Go see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and rent the movie version of Singin’ in the Rain one night when it really is raining.

3 out 5 Stars Singin’ In The Rain
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
9 July – 21 August 2010

TUTS presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Singin’ in the Rain in repetory under the stars at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl. Tickets are available online or by calling 1-877-840-0457 or at the TUTS box office. Visit http://www.tuts.ca for tickets and information.

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