OREM — Singin’ in the Rain has been one of my favorite musicals since I first saw it years ago. The story is reminiscent, the music is well known, and the dancing pretty much begs me to join in. The setting is Hollywood in the 1920’s. Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are the biggest stars of the silent movies. But the introductions of a starlet named Kathy Seldon and Talkies (movies with sound, for you young readers) are about to rock their world.
This is the first show I’ve seen at the SCERA Shell Theater. It’s a great stage with a fantastic seating arrangement, in a refreshing outdoor setting. Not knowing what standard of production this theater typically produces, I was unsure what quality of a show director Jerry Elison might deliver.
I admit, I was underwhelmed by the performance at first. The overall pacing was slow, and it seemed like the actors were more focused on lines than character. It may have been a funk: Emily Smith (Kathy Seldon) had a very nice voice, excellent dance ability, and great energy, but there was nothing that really stood out to me as memorable. I also found myself wishing for more from Michael Shepherd (Don Lockwood). I wanted his voice to be lower, and his face to show more emotion – there were times I was convinced his smile was painted on.
However as the temperature dropped, and I found myself wishing I’d brought a blanket, the performance got hotter. I enjoyed the show more and more as the night went on. The actors found their characters, for the most part, and the most well-known musical numbers were a success. The last few scenes of the first act made me excited for what was to come.
After intermission, the audience could hear fireworks from the Orem Summerfest event going on a few streets away. Thankfully the cast performed well enough that the distant booms weren’t a distraction. As the fireworks hit their finale, the cast was gearing up for the “Broadway Melody,” which was the biggest dance number of the show. I wish I could say that the show-stopping number produced matching fireworks on stage. However, the energy fell short, and there were quite a few forgotten steps.
Speaking of choreography, I was pleased to see that choreographer Sunny Watts tackled an above average level of tap dancing that isn’t common in community theater. Granted, it wasn’t delivered perfectly. With the exception of A.J. Nielsen (Cosmo Brown) who nailed every step, the cast had their share of missteps and synchronicity problems. But overall, the dancing was a refreshing step up from most local amateur productions.
The real standout performance came from Rebekah Osmond, as she delivered a near-perfect Lina Lamont. She won over the audience with her first line, and stayed spot on the rest of the night. I should also give honorable mention to A.J. Nielsen (Cosmo Brown). There were several places where better pacing would have improved his performance, but when he was on, he delivered the entertainment his character requires. My favorite songs of the night were “Moses Supposes” and “Good Morning,” with “Singin’ in the Rain” coming shortly behind. The latter well-performed, but there were obvious stage limitations that stunted its potential.
Overall, the show was entertaining. The set was beautiful, the costumes were generally period-appropriate, and the only sound problems I noticed were a few missed microphone cues. I give it a B. My senses weren’t thrilled, but I didn’t find myself wishing I had stayed home, either.