North Shore’s Singin’ in the Rain has glorious feeling

Published: July 13, 2006
Utter joy infuses the North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Singin’ in the Rain.

From Matt Loehr’s high-voltage performance as movie star Don Lockwood to the detailed comic turn of David Coffee as director Roscoe Dexter, Singin’ in the Rain hums with energy.

Director and choreographer Richard Stafford knows just how to play this movie-turned-musical on the North Shore’s arena stage. Dancers move fluidly around the circle while the central elevator gets a workout, providing innumerable tableaux that take us on and off movie sound stages that frame the story. Although there are iconographic moments from the Gene Kelly-Debbie Reynolds movie that have to be included (dancing around the lamppost in the title number; tipping the couch at the end of “Good Morning”), Stafford’s dancers move without ever feeling cramped or limited.

Singin’ in the Rain, with its familiar melodies, seems almost a cliche some 50 years after the movie. But Stafford’s ensemble is so locked in to the story, even plot and credibility gaps are forgiven.

Loehr is a wonder as Lockwood - his dancing is athletic and graceful, especially with Mark Ledbetter as his longtime friend and former vaudeville partner Cosmo Brown. Their dancing in “Moses Supposes” is one of the surpise highlights of the show.

Loehr’s singing is also lovely, and when he gets to the showstopping number, my daughter was amazed he was able to do cartwheels and spin around that famous lamppost without slipping. Yes, it does rain onstage, and Loehr makes the song irresistible.

Another unexpected highlight is Beth Beyer as Lina Lamont, Lockwood’s squeaky voiced silent movie co-star. Her number “What’s Wrong With Me?” is a standout.

Singin’ in the Rain may be dated, but the NSMT’s production is so full of wonder, it’s a delight to share in it.