The musical, with book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Nacio Herb Brown and lyrics by Arthur Freed, was first a 1952 MGM movie starring Gene Kelly and the very young (19) Debbie Reynolds. Its popularity endured, and it opened in London’s West End in 1983 and on Broadway in 1985.
This is one of those shows where one thinks: How could this play be any better on Broadway or anywhere else? Lakewood smoked it–cast, set, costumes, singing, music, choreography, and hilarious film clips.
This is the story of silent movie heartthrob Don Lockwood (John David Scott) and his leading lady Lina Lamont (Stephanie Heuston-Willing) who suddenly find themselves outdated with the advent of talking pictures. The studio is in an uproar. Monumental Pictures head R.F. Simpson (Mike Dederian) decides to adapt the latest Lockwood-Lamont swashbuckler into a talkie. Lockwood and his sidekick Cosmo (Dennis Corwin) came of age on Vaudeville, so they are up for just about anything. The problem is the vain but clueless Lamont. She has the voice of bus with failing brakes. It will not work in the talkies.
Of course there is the romantic interest, who Lamont most decidedly is not despite her best fantasies and the stories she believes from the gossip magazines. Lockwood wants nothing to do with her. Enter aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Catherine Olson). She catches Lockwood’s eye, and has “the voice of an angel”. Simpson decides they will dub her voice over Lamont’s.
Lamont is not pleased, and makes her feelings known. Heuston-Willing squeezes this comic role for everything it’s worth, to great effect. Olson shines as the innocent, talented Kathy Selden. In fact, everyone who appears on stage in this production helps move it to the top. But the star is certainly John David Scott–smooth as glass as a singer and dancer, and a deft actor who seems to be made for the Don Lockwood role.
The show is directed by Ron Daum, who finds this piece “a terrific tonic for troubled times”. He is joined by music director Beth Noelle and choreographer Laura Hiszczynskyj. Grace O’Malley and her crew provide and array of lovely period costumes. Shout-outs to producer Steve Knox, lighting designer Kurt Herman, sound designer Marcus Story, and stage Manager Berl Dana’y.
This wonderful show is suitable for families. It runs through June 9 at Lakewood Center for the Performing Arts in Lake Oswego.