Singin' in the Rain

Extricate yourself from the current pace of technological innovation and step back to a time when "Talkies" first appeared on the silver screen. The public loved it. They turned out in droves to see AND hear Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer. It changed film from a melodramatic medium to a realistic one and ended the careers of many silent film stars.

Scott Beyette as Don Lockwood
Scott Beyette as Don Lockwood
Singin' in the Rain is by far the most popular film that documents this exact moment in cinematic history, topped off, of course, by Gene Kelly's famous number in a thundershower. In a rare and highly successful crossover, the screenplay has become a favorite, at least at Boulder's Dinner Theatre (BDT), judging from the demand of its patrons, where it is the most requested show every year, according to BDT's artistic director Michael J. Duran.

Movie stars Don Lockwood (Scott Beyette) and Lina Lamont (Cindy Lawrence) are in production on what is expected to be another in a long line of hits for the on-screen romantic, off-screen contentious, couple. But just before the film is about to be released, "Talkies" begin and the studio head, R.F. Simpson (A.K. Klimpke) is forced to change his thinking.

Lawrence is a hoot as the feather-brained, linguistically challenged Lamont, who becomes a running gag following her first spoken words. Klimpke delights in R.F.'s equivocations, torn between a strong ego and weak analysis, especially when it comes to his big money maker, the tabloid-fuelled illusion of Don and Lina's relationship.

Lockwood meets Kathy Selden (Alicia Dunfee), who can talk, sing, and dance, and he's immediately smitten; so, he schemes with his show biz friend, Cosmo Brown (Bob Hoppe), to save the picture and put an end to his screen relationship with Lina.

(Left to right) Scott Beyette as Don Lockwood and Bob Hoppe as Cosmo Brown
(L or R) Scott Beyette as Don Lockwood
and Bob Hoppe as Cosmo Brown
Bayette (Director/Choreographer), Dunfee (Co-Choreographer), and Hoppe light it up in the dance numbers, whether it's old Vaudeville routines, tap (with Duran's consultation), or freeform interpretations, highlighted by: Beyette's romantic "You Were Meant for Me" and his splashy "Singin' in the Rain" (link to film version); Hoppe's "Make 'Em Laugh"; and Dunfee's frolic with her co-stars in "Good Mornin'."

The complexities of adapting Singin' in the Rain to the stage are challenging—including video segments that resemble old films and a rainstorm on stage—and BDT pulls off these feats with aplomb.

The one issue that holds back this impressively produced, well-executed gem is casting. To keep a team at the top of its game, you have to hire a free agent now and then for certain roles. There's no doubt that Dunfee can dance, act, and (in her range) sing with the best of them, but try as she might, she is unconvincing as the ingenue, Kathy Selden—who is supposed to be starting out her career—which undermines the credulity of certain events as well as the chemistry between Seldon and Lockwood.

In addition to a number of memorable tunes and dance numbers (including the Busby Berkeley-inspired "Beautiful Girl," featuring the smooth crooning of Brian Jackson in a spiffy white tux), the sets (Amy Campion), costumes (Linda Morken), lighting (Nicholas Kargel), sound design (Wayne Kennedy), and orchestra (directed by Neil Dunfee) are all top notch. Singin' in the Rain runs through March 16th, 2003. 303-449-6000.

Bob Bows


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