As far as movie musicals go, “Singin’ in the Rain” is one of the great ones. The 1952 film classic starred Gene Kelly as a song-and-dance man turned silent movie star, Donald O’Connor as his funny sidekick and a teenage Debbie Reynolds as the aspiring star who captures Kelly’s heart.
In 1983, the movie became a West End musical with a book by screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green and a string of great Nacio Herb Brown-Arthur Freed songs from the movie: “All I Do Is Dream of You,” “Make ’em Laugh,” “You Are My Lucky Star,” “You Were Meant for Me” and, of course, the splish-splash title song.
The stage version has its delightful moments, lifted from or inspired by the film, but it doesn’t rise to the level of the much-loved movie. Boca Raton’s Wick Theatre, a Carbonell Award contender for its delightful production of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” has made “Singin’ in the Rain” its audience-pick show for the season. Maybe patrons were feeling nostalgic for the movie. Who knows? But the show they’re getting isn’t as all-out impressive as “The Drowsy Chaperone” or the Wick’s more recent “She Loves Me.”
Staged and choreographed by Rommy Sandhu, “Singin’ in the Rain” is set in the glamorous silent-film era, when certain stars’ careers were about to be torpedoed by the advent of talkies.
Lina Lamont (Laura Plyler) is one of those unfortunates. Leading lady to dashing Don Lockwood (Jeremy Benton), a former dancer, Lina has enjoyed a string of hits opposite Don while operating under the delusion that they’re a couple. Worse, her screechy speaking voice and accent just don’t work for a gal playing a cavalier’s lady. What to do?
Don’s pal and sometime dance partner Cosmo Brown (Courter Simmons) has a brainstorm: Why not get new-to-town Kathy Selden (Darien Crago), a talented young woman who is swiftly capturing Don’s heart, to dub Lina’s lines and songs in the forthcoming movie musical “The Dancing Cavalier?”
Studio head R.F. Simpson (Timothy Shew) likes it. Don likes it, and so does Kathy. Secrecy where jealous Lina is concerned is a must, though. She’s already had Kathy fired once and will most certainly do it again.
There’s not much more to the predictably unfolding plot than that. The delights in “Singin’ in the Rain” flow from its famous song-and-dance numbers.
Don, Kathy and Cosmo do their madcap dance to “Good Morning,” at the end hopping onto a couch, tipping it over and collapsing with sweaty joy. Don hoofs and splashes through the rain, with and without an umbrella. And, yes, it rains on the Wick stage. In a number centered on Don and dance captain Emily Tarallo as the sizzling Girl in Green, the cast brings a sultry Broadway to life.
The stars of the Wick’s production are certainly fine, seasoned talents, but only Benton fully delivers his triple-threat best. Crago’s dancing is stronger than her singing, and Simmons (who was so funny and memorable as the best man in the Wick’s “Drowsy Chaperone”) comes off as a frenetically corny actor playing Donald O’Connor playing Cosmo Brown.
The set consists mostly of Josieu Jean’s projection designs, which take the audience to the studio, Don’s swanky house and the street where all that rain falls. Jim Buff’s costumes, particularly the lavish Lina-as-star getups, are lovely to look at. The lighting is by Emily Becher-McKeever, sound by Justin Thompson and musical direction by Steven Dahlke. The black-and-white “silent film” segments featuring Don and Lina, an element crucial to the story, are a hoot.
For sure, plenty of enjoyable moments bubble up in the Wick’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” But most of them are the offspring of a 1952 movie.
“Singin’ in the Rain” runs through Feb. 18 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, in Boca Raton. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Tickets cost $85. To order, call 561-995-2333 or go to TheWick.org.