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Make 'Em Laugh

The Shedd brings beloved Hollywood musical Singin’ in the Rain to the stage
A dance number in Singin’ in the Rain
A dance number in Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain is my favorite musical. The film is the ultimate combination of singing, choreography, comedy and charisma among actors Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and the rest of the cast, and it brings to life the Roaring ’20s even though the movie is so noticeably filmed on a 1950s Hollywood lot. 

The Shedd’s production, directed by Peg Major and running through Dec. 17 in the Jaqua Concert Hall, depicts the musical’s Hollywood setting. The costumes are glitzy, the makeup and hairstyles are precise, and the sets creatively provide a nostalgic window into this beloved musical. Lights are used to recreate rain, and several big set changes captured the film’s Hollywood locations. 

In the first few scenes, the audience is introduced to a famed on-screen duo — Don Lockwood (Trevor Eichhorn) and Lina Lamont (Lynnea Barry) — at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. As Lamont insists to the crowd gathered at the premiere that the she and Lockwood are a couple, Lockwood leaves for a Hollywood party.

Lockwood puts his arm around Kathy Selden (Cyra Conforth), a theater actor he just met, as he attempts to avoid the crowd. Tom Wilson (Cosmo Brown) comes in with a strong start and earns immediate laughs with his version of “Make ’em Laugh” by crashing onto the stage floor and hanging upside down from a ladder. 

The re-creation on stage of the black-and-white film’s sequence of mishaps includes out-of-sync sound, and The Shedd audience laughed at Lina’s persistent inability to follow directions during the projection of takes from the “Dueling Cavalier.”

Eichhorn and Barry captured the perfect rivalry between Lockwood and Lamont, while Eichhorn and Wilson worked well together as they shuffled and tapped on a wooden desk while performing the infamous “Moses Supposes” song. 

Several times throughout the show, however, it was difficult to hear dialog as well as some of the singing. The music, conducted by Robert Ashens, sometimes overpowered Eichhorn and Conforth when they sang and spoke. Although, individually, both Conforth and Eichhorn prove strong dancers and actors, the pair lack on-stage chemistry. Some notes fell flat in the song “Good Morning,” but Eichhorn, Conforth and Wilson were in sync with their time steps, making the scene enjoyable overall. 

During the second act, Barry’s “What’s Wrong With Me” had the audience laughing at every shrill note of her purposefully nasally accent. Both Dylan Stasack (as R.F. Simpson) and Ron Daum (who plays the film director Roscoe Dexter and also directed film sequences shown in the play) were hilarious and carried the production with strong transitions from one scene to another. The ensemble’s performance added a robust musical element to The Shedd’s production. The entire cast closed by belting out “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Singin’ in the Rain runs through Sunday, Dec. 17, at The Shedd; $18.25-$38, tickets at theshedd.org or 541-434-7000.