Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Singin' in the Rain
The stage musical is based on the classic 1952 movie starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. The movie features one of the most iconic scenes in movie history, as a love-struck Gene Kelly sings and dances in the rain (it was actually a mixture of milk and water). It's hard to imagine a more widely known and loved song and dance performance.
With a 1983 debut, the musical is an early offering in the film-to-stage movement that has taken over Broadway in the last couple of decades. Since the movie is very stagey, it makes an easy transition to a live musical. And director Henry Avery has delivered a strong production from start to splashy finish. This production well earn its enthusiastic standing ovation.
Singin' in the Rain tells the story of silent-movie star Don Lockwood (Larry Aguilar) struggling to make the transition to talkies. Lockwood has the voice to make the transition, but his longtime co-star Lina Lamont (a terrific Lisette Herrera) has a voice that sounds like a hamster in pain.
Along the way, Lockwood meets song-and-dance wannabe Kathy Selden (a solid, versatile Stevie Nichols). At first Lockwood is impressed by her vocal and dance skills, but soon he falls in lovemuch to the consternation of Lamont. Throughout, Lockwood is supported by musician buddy Cosmo Brown (Broadway-trained Ryan Shepherd). Lamont works to undermine and destroy Selden, revealing a mean streak that begs comeuppance.
Director Avery picked a stellar right-hand man in Larry Aguilar who takes on the Gene Kelly role of Don Lockwood. Under his full name, Larry Joseph Aguilar, he does double-duty as choreographer, which is no small chore with dance dominating the show.
The strongest song-and-dance pieces come at the close of act one. In "Good Morning," Aguilar, Nichols and Shepherd dance and sing across Lockwood's apartment, concluding with a dynamite tip-the-couch finish. But the star piece of the playas it was the star piece of the moviecomes after Lockwood walks Selden home in the rain. After he drops her off, he realizes he has fallen off the deep end for the girl. He is so dizzy in love, he sings and dances in the rain. This is where you cross your fingers and hope for the best. It's the high moment of both the play and the movie. Yet, how can you match Gene Kelly in Kelly's signature dance scene? Aguilar nails it. Instead of mimicking Kelly's moves, Aguilar adapts the piece to his own style and strengths, delivering a highlight.
The Albuquerque Little Theatre's production of Singin' in the Rain features a cast of more than forty. They collectively deliver well. Avery has put together a fine show, and Aguilar has made the dancing dazzle from beginning to end. Kudos also to the extensive production crew who present excellent costuming, set, lighting and sound.
Singin' in the Rain, based on the film by MGM, screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Book adapted by Comden and Green, music by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, lyrics by Arthur Freed. The ALT production was directed by Henry Avery with choreography by Larry Aguilar and music direction by Hollybeth Williams.
At the Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, through June 17. Performances run Friday at 8:00, and Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. General admission for adults at regular performances is $24 for adults, $21 for seniors (62 and above), $18 for students, and $12 for kids under 13. The show is rated G. For reservations, call 242-4750, ex. 2, or purchase at the Theatre's website: albuquerquelittletheatre.org/.