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Bob Goepfert Reviews "Singin’in the Rain" At Park Playhouse

ALBANY -   Last year Park Playhouse lost half its outdoor performances because of the rain. This year the audience cheers and applauds as the stage at the amphitheater in Albany’s Washington Park is pelted by a rain storm.

That’s because the musical offered is “Singin’ in the Rain,” based on the film which had Gene Kelly doing a memorable dance in the midst of a rain shower. The staging and technical effect of the number is such a crowd pleaser they close the show with the entire cast in yellow slickers doing a reprise of the number.

If only the entire show were this energetic and enthusiastic the entire night might be memorable.  Instead, because of a laconic performance by Andrew Boetcher who plays the Gene Kelly role of Don Lockwood and passive direction by Michael Loporto, the show tends to plod along taking an hour and forty minutes to complete the first act alone.

It’s unfortunate because the show does include many positives.   The other leads are terrific.  Michael Cefalo is a talented young actor who plays Cosmo Brown, the wise guy side kick to Lockwood.  He has great comic timing; he can sing well and is an energetic dancer.  

Julia Franklin is a delightful Kathy Selden the sweet young woman who provides the love interest for Don.  She has a superior singing voice and is a lovely presence on stage.  Brittany Martel is remarkable as she makes Lina Lamont villainous, without losing the humor within the character.

The supporting cast is uniformly good with Joe Phillips standing out as the gruff studio head and Marc de la Concha adding comic relief as the frustrated director Roscoe Dexter.

There are also a couple of other good numbers in the show. Marc Christopher has fun as he leads the ensemble in the production number “Beautiful Girl.”   The tongue-twister “Moses Supposes” is delightful and “Good Morning” is buoyant.   “Broadway Ballet” is a show-stopper. 

Ashley-Simone Kirchner’s excellent choreography is able to find a balance of being faithful to the film and still seeming original.  Brian Axford leads a dozen musicians who perfectly support the singers.

And to be fair, Boetcher is not lacking talent as a performer.  He sings well and is a good dancer.  Indeed his show-stopping number is fun – it’s just that he’s miscast as the dynamic Don Lockwood.  

The major problem is the material is weak.   The plot about an egotistical silent film star having a terrible voice as films transition to “talkies” is shallow and overly familiar.  

However, director Loporto trusts the material and drags out bits that should be glossed over.  Film clips cleverly created by Technical Video, Inc. are initially fun but they drag on.  The opening sequences take nearly 20 minutes to establish what almost everyone entering the park already knows.  Indulgent pauses are routine and scenes drag.

Without a fast pace, the problems of the show are so obvious that not even a clever and rather ingenious rain shower, created by Upstate Scenic, can wash away the flaws.

“Singin’ in the Rain,” at Park Playhouse in Washington Park, Albany, Through July 25.  Performances 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.  Free hillside seating.  434-0776.  Parkplayhouse.com 

Bob Goepfert is the arts editor for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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