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Umbrellas optional

A stage version of the movie classic Singin' in the Rain arrives at the Show Palace.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Published February 23, 2007


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Long before video killed the radio star, audio knocked off scores of silent movie divas whose screechy voices could peel paint.

That's the story of Singin' in the Rain, the 1952 movie classic that made a star of a young Debbie Reynolds and was later made into a stage show.

The stage version opens at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre today for an eight-week run that is already selling out shows.

Singin' in the Rain is set in the late 1920s, when silent screen stars rule the entertainment world. The undisputed favorites are "Lockwood and Lamont," otherwise known as Don Lockwood (Chris Warren Murry) and Lina Lamont (Erin Romero).

It's all moonlight and roses until 1927, when Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, Hollywood's first talkie movie, makes silent movies obsolete. Lockwood is fine, but Lamont has a chipmunk voice and a grating, nasal accent that makes theater patrons laugh instead of love.

That's when perky Kathy Selden (Andrea Eskin) comes to the rescue, dubbing her lovely voice into scenes where Lina has to speak.

Don is smitten with Kathy, but, for publicity's sake, he pretends to be in love with Lina. Lina, who takes the "love" publicity seriously, is consumed with jealousy and demands that Kathy be banished.

Not so fast, though. Kathy's buddies, Don and Cosmo Brown (Tyler Fish), like having her around, and they figure out a way to make it all work.

The show presented a long list of challenges, most striking an on-stage rainstorm for the title number.

Set designer Tom Hansen has created a system of pipes, faucets and drains to create genuine precipitation on the stage. "This is something really exciting," said Nick Sessa, co-producer. "It's one of the hardest things Tom has ever had to do here."

Equally challenging was finding singer-dancers who could fill the roles made famous on film by Reynolds (Kathy), Gene Kelly (Don), and Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown), a task left to artistic director Matthew McGee. After a lengthy search, McGee brought in newcomers Murry and Romero to join several theater veterans.

Director-choreographer Katie Kerwin and musical director Gary Wyatt combined to showcase songs like Moses Supposes, Good Mornin', You Are My Lucky Star and, of course, Singin' in the Rain.

IF YOU GO

'Singin' in the Rain'

Where: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson.

When: Today to April 15. Shows at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and some Thursdays; 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays. Doors open two hours before evening and Sunday shows and at 11:30 a.m. for matinees.

Tickets: Dinner and show, $42.50; show only, $31.45; ages 12 and younger, $24.95 and $19.95; all plus tax and tip. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll-free elsewhere at 1-888-655-7469.

[Last modified February 22, 2007, 22:33:13]


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