“Singin’ in the Rain” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 5, 2022


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

A delightful singing and dancing extravaganza awaits theatergoers lucky enough to see The Phoenix Theatre Company’s marvelously entertaining, expertly staged, and smartly performed stage version of the 1952 movie musical masterpiece “Singin’ in the Rain.”

A huge ensemble headed by sharply defined lead performers dazzles as the tuneful and briskly staged version sparkles brilliantly.  Jeff Whiting’s production and Lauran Stanis’ explosive choreography artfully captures the film’s glittering production numbers created around Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed’s hummable tunes.  Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s story cleverly exposes the trials and tribulations of the arrival of talkies into the burgeoning 1927 film industry.

Composer Cosmo Brown adapts with friend and film leading man Don Lockwood while squeaky-voiced Lina Lamont won’t make the effort to transition because the work required is too rigorous for a “star.” Extra Kathy Selden has the vocals and dancing drive necessary to capture Lockwood while meeting the new film industry demand of talent.

Scattered throughout are film executive R. F. Simpson and chatty gossip columnist Dora Bailey to keep the intrigue going even though the shallow plot is just a loose framework on which to hang the over-the-top production numbers.  The song hits spin out including the title tune, “Make ‘Em Laugh” with great acrobatics, dancing, and timing, “Moses Supposes,” “Beautiful Girl,” and “Broadway Melody” among the dozen plus hits.

Michael Starr’s Lockwood dances incredibly, sings smoothly, plays comedy with sly mischievousness, and handles romance sincerely.  In the title tune, it actually rains on stage but Starr splashes through the water with remarkable ease. Blake Patrick Spellacy’s Brown is always supportive of Lockwood but in the second act Spellacy stops the show with dazzling solo and ensemble dancing in “Broadway Melody.”

Elyssa Blonder’s Kathy Selden is always beholden to Lockwood as she uses her wiles to successfully woo him as her glorious voice, and smartly toe-tapping feet to outshine “star” Lina Lamont played with outwardly stupefying mannerisms by Emily Mohney that belie shrewd and manipulative scheming that ultimately fails her.  Two small roles are masterfully handled by D. Scott Withers as film executive Simpson and Sally Jo Bannow as the garrulous Bailey.  The huge ensemble dances alluringly and sings with explosive verve as they execute amazing tap routines.

Jeff Kennedy’s off-stage orchestra is vibrantly alive while the unit set and cleverly crafted scenic projections perfectly creates multiple areas within the movie studio.  Elaborate costumes prove eye-filling.

Nothing profound in “Singin’ in the Rain” just a dazzlingly entertaining production that delights.  It continues through April 3.  For tickets, contact The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A