Abigail Crabtree brings a superb production of Singin’ In the Rain to the Playhouse stage. Thank you, Abby, for an exciting evening at the theater. The skillful dancing and fine singing is remarkable.

The show is based on the 1952 classical film musical starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. The plot takes us back to 1927. Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, played by Britt Hancock and Summer Dawn Wallace, are darlings of the silent screen. Lockwood and his happy-go-lucky pal, Cosmo Brown, played by Daniel Black, have worked hard to reach success. They are ready when the studio sees that “talkies” are the wave of the future.

Regular denizens of the Playhouse know that Britt Hancock is a six-footer with a sizable frame. He could be a frightening Beast in Beauty and the Beast, a believable Rum-Tum Tugger in Cats. This reviewer has rejoiced to see Hancock in a variety of roles. He is a remarkably skillful and versatile dancer as he taps his way into our hearts. He leaps a sofa with far smaller Cosmo and Kathy with agility and aplomb. We recognize again his uniquely fine voice. His emotional range is particularly delightful as he moves from the intense to fun loving singing “You Were Meant for Me.”

Daniel Brown has been a part of the Playhouse family for ten seasons.

We have watched him deepen the role of the boy twin in Smoke on the Mountain and A Sanders Family Christmas. His “Make ‘em Laugh” is fine. With amazing versatility, he bring together skills in gymnastics, dance and song. He brings us Cosmo Brown who is more than a sidekick, he is a fellow star.

Hancock and Black are superior in tap numbers such as “Moses.”

It is good to have Summer Dawn Wallace back after ten years of stage development. Sustaining the dreadful voice of Lina Lamont takes terrific vocal control. Her role brings us the star you love to hate. She begins as the lovesick hanger-on to Lockwood. When it is obvious her voice is not fit for the “talkies,” she gives us an angry, disenchanted and petulant Lina. Thank you, Renee Luttrell, for her outrageous costumes.

Pamela Morgan is a newcomer to the Playhouse. She is a joy to watch as she plays Kathy Selden. We watch her emerge from a shy, bookish young woman to a skilled vocalist and dancer. There is a jewel-like quality to her voice as she sings “You Are My Lucky Star.” No wonder Lina is upset to think this lovely young woman would be singing in her stead. There is a interesting question of ethics here as Lina and Kathy discover.

Each member of this cast of 40, plus a 12-piece orchestra deserves recognition. Carol Irvin in her furs brings energy to the mayhem as the show opens. The black and white film segments are hilariously well done. Jason Ross brings his inimitable skill in timing to the role of director, Roscoe Dexter. Joe Niesen as the male diction coach and Weslie Webster as Miss Dinsmore are hilarious in their efforts to give Lina a chance for a future in the “talkies.” The whole ensemble works as a unit whether portraying rehearsals inside the theater or outside Kathy’s house as they are indeed “Singin’ In the Rain.”

On opening night, there were a few times the sound was over-powering. The orchestra will restrain themselves a bit at the opening of the second act, I am sure. Sound designer Megan Fry needs to work on the scene at the mansion of R.F. Simpson. Overall, the sound is excellent but some spots need checking.

Even if you saw this production at the Playhouse in 1996, return to see the magic woven by director Abigail Crabtree. Michele Colvin as choreographer, Ron Murphy as musical director, lighting designer Weston Wilkerson, scenic director Frank Foster, and costume designer Renee Luttrel, all deserve plaudits. Technical director John Partyka, scenic artists John Fionte and Victory Ducey make it all come together.

Thank you, Jim Crabtree and the Discovery Depot in Cookeville, for this gift.

Recommended for you