SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Based on the classic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film
By special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc.
Artisan Center Theater
Director – John Wilkerson
Music Director – Richard Gwozdz
Choreographer – Amy Jones
Fight Choreographer – Kirk Corley
Set/Lighting Design – David Hyde
Properties Design – Kris Hampton
Costume Design – Nita Cadenhead and Julie Molina
Stage Manager – Cassondra Plybon
Musical Recording Provided by The MT Pit L.L.C.
CAST (in reviewed performance)
Don Lockwood – Elias Roman
Cosmo Brown – Chris Hurt
Kathy Seldon – Jennie Jermaine
Lina Lamont – Jayjeny Smith
R. F. Simpson – Neal Gregory
Rosco Dexter – Travis Miller
Zelda/Featured Dancer/Dance Ensemble – Amy Jones
Rod/Chorus – Stafford Milton
Diction Coach/Tenor/Chorus – Adam Livingston
Dora Bailey/Dance Ensemble – Kristina Bain
Miss Dinsmore/Wardrobe Lady/Chorus – Kristi Taylor
Fan/Chorus/Dance Ensemble – Emma Quigley and Traysa Waak
Mary Margaret/Chorus/Dance Ensemble – Ashley Hawkins
Photographer/Chorus – Everett Shirey
Olga/Fan/Chorus – Jess Ramos
Sid Phillips/Chorus – Michael Molina
Young Don Lockwood – Gabe Magana
Young Cosmo Brown – Jacob Meyers
Reviewed Performance 3/7/2015
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
“Singin’ in the Rain, just Singin’ in the Rain …”. The 1952 film, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, was a modest success when first released. However, the great songs and performances granted the film its current high status in film history. According to the American Film Institute, it is the #1 Musical Film of all time and #5 American Film overall.
The plot tells the tale of silent film star Don Lockwood who worked his way up in show business with his best friend Cosmo Brown. Don’s leading lady, Lina Lamont, is dense and vapid with an annoying voice. She believes the studio’s publicity about her and Lockwood’s romantic relationship no matter how many times Don tries to protest. Soon Don happens to meet Kathy Seldon and becomes smitten with her. To Lina’s chagrin, Lockood and Brown begin helping Kathy’s acting career, leading to the main action of the play taking off.
At Artisan Center Theater, their space is a small black box theater. For Singin’ in the Rain, it is set up as an arena stage, leaving no space for a set but four entrances the actors can utilize. Walking in, a blank floor is surrounded by risers and audience seating. Pieces such as benches, lamp posts, trees, and bushes are all carried on to build scenes but are kept to a minimum to cut down on blocking site lines and leave space for actors to move.
Lighting is simple. Basic blue and red colors accentuate the moods of scenes while simple white light is used for most scenes. For the most part, the stage area is well lit and every performance can be seen well. However, in Act Two, as Kathy sings “Would You”, most of the stage is in shadows with a spotlight on the recording booth with Cosmo who is not the focus of the scene. Actress Jennie Jermaine performs the song, while the audience struggles to see her in the darkness.
Costuming is great, all being period appropriate. The most interesting are the French aristocracy costumes for the film scenes. These are well put together with vibrant colors. Lina Lamont’s white dress with her ridiculously high wig is a great contrast to Don Lockwood’s purple waist coat and lacy ruffles. Also, Lamont’s wig provides fun, comedic moments as it weighs her down in the scene.
The most impressive technical aspect of Singin’ in the Rain is the installed rain bars over the stage, allowing rain to fall on the performance area during the titular song. I worried for the safety of the actors and audience members who have to walk through it all. Water puddles can make a stage slippery and the audience must cross the performance area to reach the lobby as the scene takes place immediately before intermission. Luckily, David Hyde took safety into consideration and has buffers placed on the floor before the scene to prevent water from going beyond the performance area and the set crew does a quick clean up with squeegees and shop vacs.
The sound for Singin’ in the Rain can be improved. There are many instances of mics not being un-muted at the beginning of lines, as well as Jennie Jermaine’s mic volume being generally too low. It is often difficult to understand the words of the songs she sings due to the music overpowering her voice.
Amy Jones’ choreography attempts at being a faithful recreation of the dances in the movie. The main actors, Elias Roman, Chris Hurt, and Jennie Jermaine, do well to keep up with the routines including the famous sofa push over at the end of “Good Morning.” However, those in the ensemble do not shine as well.
The outstanding performance of Singin in the Rain belongs to Jayjeny Smith as Lina Lamont. Her character voice is perfectly annoying. She has great comedic sense which provides several of the funniest moments in the show.
Elias Roman, as Don Lockwood, is charming and handsome. He has a fine voice and smoothly croons “You Stepped out of a Dream.” His splash dancing in “Singin in the Rain” excites the audience in the splash zone and keeps them on their guard.
Don Lockwood’s right hand man, Cosmo Brown, is played by Chris Hurt. His dancing for the most part is strong. However, he doesn’t take a prat fall well and this hurts his performance in “Make ‘Em Laugh.” He does tap well, along with Elias Roman, during “Moses Supposes.”
Jennie Jermain, as Lockwood’s love interest Kathy Seldon, is cute and has a well-developed character. It’s unfortunate technical issues hide her voice. Tonally, she sounds wonderful. She isn’t given as much opportunity to dance along with Roman and Hurt, even in “Good Morning” as Debbie Reynolds did with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, but stands out in her numbers with the ensemble.
Singin’ in the Rain runs into problems with its length. The first act runs slowly, for almost ninety minutes. The biggest issue with time is in scene changes. The end of scenes holds for too long before the lights go down; the action has ended yet the audience sits watching actors hold in place, waiting for the lights. The second act flies by at about thirty minutes. The placement of the intermission is probably not Artisan Center Theater’s fault but it does create an unsatisfactory, second act imbalance.
There are good performances from the lead actors in Singin in the Rain. However, they don’t get the support they need from the ensemble. Coupled with the dragged out pace of the first act, which caused some people to leave at intermission, it’s difficult to suggest making the long drive from the east side of Dallas to Artisan Center Theater in Hurst, as I did. If you’re in a sentimental mood, I recommend firing up the original on Netflix.
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Artisan Center Theater
444 E. Pipeline Rd.
Hurst, TX 76053
Runs through April 18th
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Saturday at 7:30pm, and Saturday at 3:00 pm
Weekday tickets are $20.00, $20.00 for seniors/students, and $9.00 for children. Weekend tickets are $22.00, $20.00 for seniors/students, and $11.00 for children.
For tickets and information, go to www.artisanct.com or call their box office at 817-284-1200. (Office Hours: Monday-Friday 10 am to 6 pm. Saturday 10 am to 4 pm)