The production of “Singin’ in the Rain” is a feather in the fedora for Theatre Memphis.
It has been a technical challenge to stage this infrequently done musical. To do it right, you’ve got to have talent that can sing, dance and yuk it up, plus big sets, scads of props, timing, technology ... and rain. By which we mean actual falling water and not silvery ropes or lighting effects.
There are also four short films in the mix, which adds great fun to the production that barely slows to take a breath. It’s a good thing there’s plenty of energy since the first act runs a nearly exhausting two hours.
Supplying a good bit of that oomph is Rob Hanford, playing Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly’s role in the 1952 film). The loose-limbed actor moves with assuredness and grace (he’s “Gotta Dance”) and is terrific to watch — particularly when he does the famous rain dance that caps the first act.
The entire cast is gifted, which takes the production beyond being a technical marvel. (Here’s my story on what went into putting it together:
Hanford has a good chemistry with Lydia Hart’s Kathy Selden, and her vocals are right on the money. Stephen Garrett’s Cosmo Brown is the funnyman, and he delivers on the laughs.
Claire Hayner stands out as Lina Lamont, the vocally challenged silent screen star who has trouble adjusting to talkies. Hayner, a gifted singer (a talent foiled in this role), shows a similar command of comedy, enough to nearly steal the show.
Kudos to director Ann Marie Hall, who never let the technical demands get in the way of good performances. She had a lot of help on all fronts, including Christi Hall’s choreographic direction, Jeffrey B. Brewer’s musical direction, Andre Bruce Ward’s costumes and Christopher McCollum’s remarkable scenic and properties design (it can’t just rain, it’s gotta drain).
Theatre Memphis pulled out all the stops for “Singin’ in the Rain,” and the production, while sometimes breathless from the effort, is thoroughly entertaining.
‘Singin’ in the Rain’
Through June 30 at Theatre Memphis’ Lohrey Stage, 630 Perkins Ext. Performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. on June 25-26. Tickets: $28 adults, $15 students with valid ID, $10 children under 12. For more information: 901-682-8323 and theatrememphis.org.