By Kimberly Rau
There’s still time to catch Theatre by the Sea’s second show of the season, the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain, which, just like its stage and film predecessors, is a hit. Its director/choreographer Kelli Barclay had excellent material to work with, and a fantastic cast, but putting such a big show on a small stage can be a challenge. It’s one she handled beautifully.
Set in 1927, the show introduces us first to America’s Sweethearts, the It Couple of the silent screen, Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood. He’s handsome, charming, and a fantastic dancer, she’s pretty and pretty terrible at talking, acting, and handling interpersonal relationships. She would very much like their staged-for-the-media “relationship” to be real; he would very much like to be as far away from her as possible. Life changes for both of them when movies with sound come around—Lina has to somehow be made to sound good and learn to act; Don has to win the heart of the serious and beautiful actress Kathy, who is somehow immune to his charms. Of course, Lina immediately hates her. At any rate, their first attempt at a “talking picture” is a disaster, until Kathy comes up with a crazy plan that just might work to bring everything together. And somehow, it does.
The main cast is incredible, with Tim Falter and Mychal Phillips as the perfectly-paired Don and Lina. Falter is a superb tap dancer and singer, and Phillip’s comedic timing is honed to perfection. It’s a shame we don’t get to hear too much of her actual voice (no one wants to hear Lina sing, ever), because under the accent the role demands, Phillips has a powerful one. On the night I saw the show, Connor Coughlin was performing the role of Don’s best friend and business associate Cosmo, so while I can’t speak to Sean McGibbon’s handling of the role, I will say that if you have the chance to see Coughlin, you’re in for a real treat. Another great dancer and stage comedian, Coughlin nails the sarcastic and loyal sidekick part easily. And Allsun O’Malley as the buttoned-up Kathy Selden steals the show with her beautiful voice and dance skills. Even her accent is perfect for the period. Add in a talented supporting cast and it’s one of the best-cast shows I’ve seen in Matunuck.
The show is only further enhanced by great costumes (David Costa-Cabral) and some truly incredibly choreography. And yes, it does actually rain on stage, and it’s still an impressive bit of theater magic. All in all, this is a summer must-see. Hurry down before it closes.
Singin’ in the Rain runs through July 13 at Theatre by the Sea, 364 Cards Pond Rd, Wakefield, RI. Tickets may be obtained at the box office, online at www.theatrebythesea.com, or by calling 401.782.8587.