Truth be told, it was going to be difficult for Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre to mess up “Singin’ in the Rain.” It’s such a gem of a story, with so many memorable songs, it would have taken bad singers, lousy dancers and a balky rain machine to sink this ship.
Thankfully, director Jadd Davis found the perfect singers and dancers, and made it rain on cue so that audiences can sit back and enjoy this classic piece of musical entertainment, now running through July 26 on the Kroc Center stage in Coeur d’Alene.
It’s possible that many folks have never seen the stage musical of “Singin’ in the Rain,” which dates to the mid-1980s. Most likely, people are familiar with the beloved 1952 movie musical that starred the incomparable Gene Kelly in his most iconic role. The stage version stays pretty true to the movie, bringing a level of familiarity with us into the auditorium.
For the newbies, the story centers on the acting duo of Lockwood and Lamont, stars of the silent film era. They’re portrayed in the press as a couple, but Don Lockwood can barely tolerate his leading lady, Lina Lamont. When “The Jazz Singer” introduces talking movies, the studio boss decides to make the next Lockwood-Lamont picture a talkie, too. One problem: Lina has a voice made for silent movies.
When their first attempt at a talking film goes horribly and hilariously awry, Lockwood and his buddy, Cosmo Brown, talk the studio head (Jerry Sciarrio) into turning the movie into a musical and letting Lamont’s talented girlfriend Kathy Selden play Lina’s voice. It works, until Lina discovers the plan and seeks revenge.
The Seattle-based leads – John David Scott as Don Lockwood, Mallory King as Kathy Selden and Greg McCormick Allen as Cosmo Brown – are all top-notch, triple-threat performers. King, memorable as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” and Mary Poppins from previous seasons at CST, brings a lovely voice and some talented toes to the role of Kathy. Allen is a perfect clown as Cosmo, with his expressive face and impressive physicality. Scott brings the kind of easy charm, quick feet and delightful singing that made Kelly’s take on Lockwood so indelible.
Krista Curry, as the silent film star Lina Lamont, very nearly steals every scene she’s in. She does an amazing job of making Lina sound just terrible. Think Minnie Mouse on helium, and you’ll know what to expect.
There is perhaps no better three minutes of song and dance in the history of movies than Kelly’s tap-dance in the rain from the show’s title song. “Singin’ in the Rain” is joyful and glorious. The stage version incorporates many of the routine’s famous steps, including the leap onto the lamppost. Scott does a great job of making us see and feel Don’s joy at his newfound love. It’s a great moment to bring Act I to a close.
One of the challenges of the stage version is that it requires some filmmaking, as well. Davis and crew filmed clips from a silent Lockwood-Lamont film, “The Royal Rascal,” the disastrous original version of “The Dueling Cavalier” and the successful musical version, “The Dancing Cavalier.” All three turned out splendidly, adding an extra dimension to the production.
If you’re looking to escape the heat this summer, you can’t go wrong by stepping into “Singin’ in the Rain.”
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