Adrian theater brings ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ to the stage.Written by Patrick Timmis | | email@example.com
“Singin’ in the Rain” is a huge challenge for any theater.
Expectations are sky-high. The classic MGM movie musical is ingrained into the American cultural consciousness: Donald O’Connor crashing through drywall, Debbie Reynolds singing behind the curtain and the iconic image of a dripping, exuberant Gene Kelly splashing through puddles.
The Croswell Opera House’s new production gives the audience what it wants — a nostalgic but fresh performance full of crisp tap-dancing, warm-hearted songs and a lovable cast of characters led by great performances from Joseph Dennehy as Don Lockwood, Marlena Hilderley as Kathy Selden and K.C. Kenney as Cosmo Brown.
From the first notes of the overture played by music director Jonathan Sills’ rock-solid orchestra, this show is a delight.
Director and choreographer team Brian and Jodi Hissong initially thought they would have to hire professional Equity actors to pull off the show. But the talent they saw at auditions proved them wrong.
Brian is a Croswell veteran who returned from New York City with his wife to spend his summer at the opera house and work on a show they both love.
“I grew up watching the movie,” Jodi said. “That’s the reason I dance. It really is; Gene Kelly is the reason I dance.”
The cast has mastered her entertaining but difficult choreography.
“It’s amazing being part of such a dance-heavy show,” said Toledo native Brittanie Kuhr, the musical’s dance captain. “It makes your adrenaline kick in, blood pumping; but it’s so physical. Our muscles have been toned.”
All the old favorites are here: “Good Morning,” “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Moses” and even a new song for the glamorous Lina Lamont — played by Lucy Garno Hagedorn — a petulant lament for Don’s lack of attention titled “What’s Wrong with Me?”
The show’s highlight comes at the end of Act 1 when actual rain pours down on Dennehy as he sings and dances with his streaming umbrella, the stage lit by an old-fashioned lamppost.
This is Toledo-native Dennehy’s third time performing in a production of “Singin’ in the Rain” and his second as Don Lockwood.
“It’s a definite favorite of mine,” Dennehy said. “I kind of found out that anytime it’s around I’m going to be trying to do it. At least until they put a walker on me and I can’t.”
The Croswell’s own atmosphere heightens the charm of the show. The beautifully restored opera house was opened in 1866 and has been a site for vaudeville, cinema, concerts and theater ever since. The Adrian theater is the oldest continually operating theater in Michigan and one of the oldest in the United States.
“The Croswell’s such a great place,” Brian Hissong said. “It’s special to get to direct where you grew up performing in.”
“Singin’ in the Rain” performs Aug. 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 7 and 15 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for students and seniors (age 60 and older) and $15 for children (age 12 and younger). Purchase tickets online at www.croswell.org.
Tags: Patrick Timmis