Theatre Under the Stars manages to Make 'Em Laugh

Post by Kerri Brkich in

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Kerri raves about TUTS production of Singing in the Rain

I love musicals. I don’t think I had a choice, because as a kid I was forced to watch them—Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Paint Your Wagon, Oklahoma!, Cat Ballou—if it was on TV, we were watching it courtesy of my mom. Now of course when I say I was forced to watch them, no one tied me to a chair. I could’ve left the room, but there was something about those singing cowboys that sucked me in like a Hoover.

The next thing I knew, I was seeking them out, glued to Turner Classic Movies for my next fix. I left the cowboys behind and found singing nuns, gang members, WWll soldiers, and then chanced upon what I consider one of the greatest musicals ever, Singing in the Rain. Just thinking about Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds puts a smile on my face.

Which is why I had great expectations for the Theatre Under the Stars production of Singing in the Rain, put on at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. And I wasn’t disappointed. I’m embarrassed to say, especially given my love of musicals, that this was my first time attending TUTS, but it won’t be my last.

The TUTS production was appropriately scaled back from the movie original, but they didn’t lose the comedic charm and endearing personalities. Right from the opening number the audience was drawn in and carried along, and the three leads, Lindsay Sterk (Don Lockwood), Lauren Bowler (Kathy Selden), and Neil Minor (Cosmo Brown) were fantastic.

For those unfamiliar with the storyline, Singing in the Rain takes place during the transition from silent to talking films. The world’s most popular silent movie duo, Lockwood and Lamont, are at the height of their popularity when the premiere of Birth of a Nation changes motion picture making forever. The ensuing fallout in the industry drives the story forward, as the “silent” stars work to reinvent themselves and stay relevant to their audience.

Sterk’s take on Don Lockwood was excellent, although his artistic power lays in his voice rather than his dancing ability. An able tapper, he hit all the high notes of this production’s signature songs. When you’re reprising a role made famous by Gene Kelly, better to play to your own strengths rather than try to recreate lightening in a bottle. And Sterk does, playing off the other actors with impeccable comedic timing.

He is ably joined by Bowler, whose Kathy Selden is infused with spirit, and dare I say it, gumption (hey it’s set in the 1920’s, they were all about gumption.). Bowler’s voice is gorgeous, and like Sterk, she is an able tapper, but her singing chops are her main strength. Minor as Cosmo rounded out the lead roles—singing, dancing, comedy, this guy does it all and reminded me often of Donald O’Connor in his performance and mannerisms. His rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh” is outstanding and one of the best numbers of the show.

I would be remiss in not mentioning Cailin Stadnyk as Lina Lamont, because she stole every scene she was in. She was hysterical and absolutely spot on in her portrayal as the clueless silent movie star who doesn’t realize the “talkies” are about to end her career.

Whether you enjoy musicals or not, you’ll get a kick out of Singing in the Rain, playing at the Malkin Bowl until August 21st on alternating nights. For more information or to purchase tickets go to http://www.tuts.ca/content/welcome.

For 64 years, Theatre Under the Stars has entertained Vancouverites. If, like me, you’ve been giving it a miss, I encourage you to check it out. They are also doing a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which I hope to see before its run ends on August 20th.

- post by Kerri

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