Saturday, September 17, 2022

"Singin' in the Rain" at Lakeshore Players Theatre

To open their impressive 70th season in White Bear Lake, Lakeshore Players Theatre is presenting Singin' in the Rain. The classic 1952 movie musical was written by legendary musical theater team Comden and Green, and adapted into a stage musical in 1983. It's a big old-fashioned musical with comedy, romance, dancing, and tons of familiar songs, and the team at Lakeshore does a great job in this fun, feel-good musical. See it in the beautiful Hanifl Performing Arts Center weekends through October 6.

The story takes place in the late '20s and centers on the transition from silent films to "talkies." Everyone's favorite Hollywood pair (on screen but not off) Lockwood and Lamont are poised to make it big, except that Lina Lamont has a less than pleasant voice. Don Lockwood and his friend / comic sidekick Cosmo conspire to have rising star Kathy Selden, with whom Don is falling in love, do the singing and talking for Lina. But when she finds out about the dubbing, and the relationship, Lina is not happy, and tries to derail both.

Highlights include:
  • Under director Ethan Nienaber, the show has an easy breezy feel, but making it appear so is probably anything but. There are a lot of moving pieces, including some charming filmed scenes played on a screen, not to mention actual rain on stage, and it all comes together and flows well (although some scene transitions are a little draggy).
  • Julia Ennen, like her character Kathy Selden, is a true triple-threat and the star of the show, with a beautiful voice, strong dancing skills, and great stage presence. She fits into this period movie star role well.
  • The night I saw the show, understudy Cody Carlson played the lead role of Don, a huge role to cover, which he stepped (and danced) into seamlessly. He's an amiable Don and has a sweet chemistry with Julia's Kathy.
  • Mary Palazzolo and Brendan Veerman carry the comedy load of the show. Mary is a hoot as Lina, with the annoying voice and persona needed (and I even felt a little bad for her and her predicament). Brendan uses his physical comedy skills and rubber face to good effect as Cosmo, especially in the song "Make 'Em Laugh."
  • The large and talented cast (although sadly lacking in diversity) plays multiple supporting roles and performs Hannah Weinberg-Goerger's fun and classic choreography well (oh the tapping, and the iconic couch-tipping!).
  • A lot of sequins went into the fun, colorful, and glamorous period Hollywood costumes (designed by Katie Booth and Bronson Talcott).
  • The seven-person pit orchestra, led by Wesley Frye, may be the largest I've seen in the Hanifl Center, which has an actual pit, so I'm thrilled they're filling it up with musicians! They sound wonderful, and you are guaranteed to leave the theater whistling a few familiar tunes from this classic score.
Brendan Veerman, Julia Ennen, and Tommy McCarthy
(photo by M&D Media)

If you live in the Northeast Metro and are looking for a fun and feel-good old-fashioned musical comedy, well executed by a talented local cast and creative team, look no further than Lakeshore Players Theatre's Singin' in the Rain. It's really like the beloved movie come to life on stage. And check out the rest of LPT's 70th season, which includes some great and ambitious selections like Noises Off, Calendar Girls, and La Cage aux Folles.