OGDEN — The Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden has mounted their latest production, the well-known and well-loved classic, Singin’ in the Rain, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with music By Nacio Herb Brown and lyrics by Arthur Freed. The musical debuted on stage in the 1980s in London and on Broadway, adapted from the popular 1952 movie of the same name. Directed by Joshua Samuel Robinson, the Ziegfeld cast has worked to bring this classic to the stage with great flair.
The story follows Lina, played by Rebecca Stephens, as she and her co-star Don, played by Colton Ward, are in danger of losing their careers to the growing popularity of talking pictures. As is often the case with shows from this time period, a young talented actress yet to make her break, Kathy Selden, played by Kali Kocherhans, enters as a romantic interest for Don and as an underdog to cheer for.
In this production, costuming is king. Costume, hair, and makeup designer Alicia Kondrick has truly outdone herself by bringing the roaring ’20s to life, from the fantastic hair, to the dresses that I kept whispering to my husband that I wanted, to the dapper suits that the men of the production sport. Set and lighting by Caleb Parry adds to the ambiance that gives this production a beautiful backdrop for the players to build the story on.
As a full production, Singin’ in the Rain has some hits and some misses. Stephens as the star-studded yet slightly less talented than she realizes Lina Lamont stands out as a character that understands fully the importance of comedic timing, characterization, and connection. Stephens plays her part well, and is amusing to watch. In contrast, Heather Luke as Cosmo has a great deal of talent and a strong voice, but needs to work on her comedic timing. Her monumental song, “Make ‘Em Laugh,” feels a bit rushed, and Luke struggles to hit some of the comedic marks to their full extent. Couple the comedic misses with the performances of Kocherhans and Ward that are enjoyable, but not necessarily remarkable, and what’s left is an evening that drags slightly.
Choreography by director Robinson is fun, energetic, and appropriate. However, a few of the dancers are off on timing with the others, which is distracting, especially in some of the bigger tap numbers such as, “Broadway Melody,” in the second act. While some of the dancers hit the steps with precision, on a small stage and with such iconic songs, one misstep is noticed perhaps more than in other productions.
Singin’ in the Rain is a well known cultural phenomena, but it suffers from some of the challenges of works in its time, such as some of the music not serving as much more than a time filler rather than advancing plot or character. Songs as time filler can be okay as long as the production focuses on the entertainment factor of the songs, providing the star-struck moments needed to give the songs a pass on their own. While the cast is musically well-balanced and the production has an enjoyable tone, the production is missing a bit of the flare that is needed to push the show forward. When songs like the famous, “Good Mornin’,” and of course, “Singin’ in the Rain,” are left slightly flat, it leaves the whole show feeling a bit slow.
Despite those pitfalls, overall the show does a decent job of paying respect to the story that has stood the test of time to be a favorite for decades before and decades to come. The cast brings a great deal of energy and fun to the dance numbers, musical numbers, and full production. Music director Stephanie Davis has helped the cast to harmonize beautifully, and the songs certainly have a strong vocalization and musicality.
One final element to mention is the inclusion of black-and-white video footage developed by the cast and production team to use as part of the show. The footage is a fantastic glimpse at the early experience of film transitioning into talking projection. This impressive element adds to the set design, costuming, and other visual ambiance elements of the show. While Singin’ in the Rain has some flaws, the cast, crew, and technical elements provide a fun evening of strong entertainment suitable for all ages.