Singing (and Tapping!) in the Rain at The Gateway Playhouse

The Gateway Playhouse continues its 2013 season with one of the greatest musicals of all time, Singin’ in the Rain. This romantic comedy, adapted from the 1952 movie of the same name, takes us on a hilarious journey with “Hollywoodland” residents Don Lockwood, Lina Lamont, Cosmo Brown and Kathy Selden.

Don Lockwood, played by the dashing Jeremy Benton, is a silent film star and Lina Lamont is the (spoiled) starlet sidekick he is reluctantly attached to. Both are at a turning point in their careers. Technology in film is advancing and soon moviemakers will find a way to put image and sound together. The conundrum there—Lina’s nails-on-a-chalkboard voice. Yes, it is that bad. Kudos to Gretchen Bieber for portraying a fantastically annoying Lina—I loved and hated every shrill sound that came out of her mouth! When Bieber sings as Lina, it’s obvious she’s covering up a knockout voice that we only hear glimmers of, right underneath the surface of Lina’s screeching.

Funnyman Cosmo Brown, played by John Scacchetti, is Lockwood’s boyhood best friend. Although Lina (with the influence of their studio Monumental Pictures) fancies herself in love with Don, he cannot tolerate her and only does so to keep the peace.

After the premier of Lockwood and Lamont’s The Royal Rascal, Don escapes his fans and finds himself on a bench with a surprised Kathy Selden. Kathy, a self-proclaimed “real stage” actress, played by Shannon O’Bryan, mocks Don’s silent film career before disappearing into the night. Although they kept their banter light, Don is clearly smitten by the elusive Kathy, as well as intrigued and more than a little hurt by her accusations.

After searching for her, Don is delighted to find Kathy when she unexpectedly shows up dancing out of a cake at a party thrown by studio head R.F. Simpson, played by Gateway favorite Steve Brady. When a competing studio produces a wildly successful talking movie, Monumental Pictures is pressured to do the same with its upcoming film The Dueling Cavalier, with stars Lockwood and Lamont. After a disastrously funny version of the film is released, it is decided that the movie must be changed to The Dancing Cavalier, a musical version. The problem lies, again, with Lina’s jarring voice. Cosmo and Don concoct a scheme to dub Kathy’s voice over Lina’s voice. They all decide Lina cannot find out.

The series of events that unfolds will have you laughing out loud, amid outstanding dance numbers such as “Make ‘em Laugh,” “Good Mornin’,” and the all-time favorite “Singin’ in the Rain.” You can’t help but grin at the love-struck Don as he tap dances to his heart’s content. Eventually Lina, who tries futilely to thwart the budding romance between Don and Kathy, discovers the conspiracy to dub Kathy’s voice over her own. After Lina threatens R.F. into agreeing to force Kathy to work as Lina’s voiceover, Cosmo and Don plot successfully to expose Lina’s scheme. Don divulges to the audience that Kathy is the real star of The Dancing Cavalier, and the pair finally reveals their romance to the public.

The finale scene is an exhilarating reprise of “Singin’ in the Rain” that you won’t soon forget. Bravo to a truly talented cast who didn’t miss a beat. The delightful sound of tap dancing feet resounded in my head long after I left the theater. Director Rick Conant and Choreographer Kelli Barclay have done justice to the popular movie and Broadway show, and put another hit on Gateway’s long and growing list of them.

Singin’ in the Rain plays at the Patchogue Theater through August 10. Next up is Ballroom with a Twist, which will feature stars from Dancing with the Stars, America Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance, appearing on stage in Patchogue August 13-18. For more information, go to pacsc.org.

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