Monday, November 6, 2017

Broadway By the Bay is 'Singin' in the Rain'

The company ends the show with the title song, "Singin' in the Rain." (Photo by Mark Kitaoka and Tracy Martin)
“Singin’ in the Rain,” one of the great movie musicals, was adapted for the stage in 1985 and is being presented by Broadway By the Bay.

The story by Betty Comden and Adolph Green is set in Hollywood just as silent movies are being nudged out by the talkies, starting with Al Jolson in “The Jazz Singer.”

Two stars of the silents are Don Lockwood (Ryan Blanning) and Lina Lamont (Jen Brooks). They’re linked romantically by fan magazines and by Lina, but not Don, who’s vastly smarter than she.

When their studio decides to turn their next film into a musical, there’s one big problem: Lina has a screechy voice and can’t sing a note. Unbeknownst to her, it’s decided that Don’s new romantic interest, Kathy Selden (Amanda Farbstein), will dub Lina’s voice and lines.

When Lina discovers the ruse, she raises a huge stink, but of course the entire truth comes out, and there’s the inevitable happy ending.

Director Alex Perez has assembled a mostly stellar cast of actor-singer-dancers led by Farbstein as Kathy and Randy O’Hara as Don’s sidekick, Cosmo. Their talents and those of the ensemble shine in number after number inventively choreographed by Robyn Tribuzi.

Of course there’s the memorable finale to Act 1 when Don ignores a downpour to sing the title song and swing on a lamp post, just as Gene Kelly did in the 1952 film. Blanning displays his dance talents here and elsewhere, but he has such a wide vibrato that he often strays from pitch.

Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed have become classics with the likes of the title song as well as “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” “You Were Meant for Me” and others. Musical director Joe Murphy and his orchestra accompany them.

An interesting aspect of this production is the subtle effort to link early advances in film technology with Silicon Valley. Therefore, some of Don and Lina’s scenes were filmed in a Beaux Arts mansion in Atherton that’s the former home of Leon Douglass.

In his program notes, director Perez says, that Douglass was “a pioneer of sound and an innovator in the early days of motion pictures.” He and Thomas Edison co-invented the Gramophone and Victrola. He also helped to advance colorization.

Kudos to costume designer Leandra Watson and set designer Kelly James Tighe. Lighting is by Michael Ramsaur and sound by Jon Hayward.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable production that runs about two and a half hours with one intermission.

It continues through Nov. 19 at the Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City. For tickets and information, call (650) FOX-7770 or visit