Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Singin’ In The Rain”

Highly Recommended***** The “tap dance” is today’s rule of thumb when it comes to musical theater in the greater Chicago venues. After thrills and chills along with toe tapping music up in Lincolnshire’s Marriott Theatre, where they are featuring the song and dance show, “My One and Only”, we take a trip down to the western burbs, namely Oak brook where Drury Lane is now presenting an amazing production of “Singin’ In The Rain”, based on the MGM film ( screenplay by musical writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. The stage production follows a movie that to many is the greatest musical movie ever made as it details the aga of the coming of “talkies” to the movie industry. Back in the 1952 film, this story about the roaring 20’s opened the eyes to the public of just how much talent Gene Kelly had as he played the lead, Don Lockwood. In this version, Broadway performer, Tony Yazbeck, who came in to replace the injured original Don, does one heck of a job with his acting, his vocal range and his amazing dance routines, including the dynamite  title song as the rains come tumbling down and he dances and splashes for the entire number. To make this work, Drury lane has installed a drainage system and moved the orchestra under the direction of Ben Johnson out of the pit as the water now flows in that area. This number alone ( which is also brought back full cast for the encore) is worth the trip to Oak brook on it’s own, but you will find every second of this production one that will have you glued to the action, laughing, smiling and having “the time of of your lives”. Yes, this is toe tapping musical and probably the best production of the season.

Not only is Tony Yazbeck amazing, director Bill Jenkins and Choreographer Amber Mak have taken this story to new heights with a cast of some of Chicago’s best veterans on the stage.Don Forston, Renee Matthews ( who always gives us 110% in each character she portrays and is one fiesty little lady),John Reeger, Catherine Lord, Scott Calcagno( who knows how to make each movement strike a chord with those viewing the play), George Andrew Wolf ( he of the powerful voice), Matthew Crowle ( who not only will make you forget the late-great Donald O’Conner, but has also choreographed his numbers “Make Them Laugh”, “Fit As A Fiddle” and “Good Morning”. Drury Lane has spared no expense in bringing us the best musical of the year, “bar none” on our stages. This is a definite DO NOT MISS  show!

A production of this size and magnitude relies on all of the parts ( set(Kevin Depinet), Lighting ( Julie Mack), Sound ( Ray Nardelli,Costumes( Maggie Hoffman), Props (Joel Lambie and video designer (Bobby Richards) along with their crews, Roberta Duchak ( music direction along with Mr. Johnson),fight choreography (John Tovar) and the actors who are placed on stage, often called the ensemble, to bring it all together making it not “just” a show, but indeed , a theatrical experience that will remain a part of your memory for many years to come. Not, just a memory, but one that will bring you joy and happiness no matter the elements or the economic status. Just driving back up north, I found myself singing and humming a tune. This is a stoy that follows some of what was in fact reality back in the days the “talkies” came to be. In this case the sexy, lovely Lina Lamont ( played by the lovely and sexy Melissa Van Der Schyff) is the leading lady for Don Lockwood and as sexy and sultry as she appears in the “silents”, her voice is far from suitable for “talkies” as it s nasal and high pitched with a twang. When it is discovered, the studio hires Ms Kathy Seldon ( the gorgeous and talented Jenny Guse) to bring her voice to the lip movement of Ms Lamont. The movie is a success and well, I won’t share with you the rest and it is much more fun to watch it evolve on its own. It all works out and everyone gets what they had hoped for.

Not only is the title song a favorite, but the song list also includes””Would You”, “Lucky Star” “Good Morning”, “You Were Meant For Me”, “You Stepped out of a Dream”,”Beautiful Girl and many more. You certainly get some memorable music and as I said earlier a powerful cast to make this all seem fantasy come to reality!. Special bravo to the stage crew who after the “Singin’ In The Rain” number ended the first act, had to make sure that during the intermission the actors would have clear floors to dance upon and the insurance carrier could bretah a sigh of relief. If you thought Marriott sprayed to end their first act, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, but I promise you, you will not be let down by this number one musical comedy that brings joy and happiness to all. It will continue at Drury Lane Oakbrook located just north of the Oakbrook Mall through January  13th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 1:30 ,Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., Fridays at 8:30 p.m.,Saturdays at 5 and 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.

Tickets range from $35 to a high of $46 ( which is a real bargain for the quality production you will see) and dinner packages are available from $49.75 to $68 ( a TOTAL bargain). The tickest can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 630-530-0111, Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or online at www.drurylaneoakbrook.com

Seniors can save money with senior tickets as low as $29-$43.75 and student seats as low as $20.

There is plenty of free parking and if you opt to eat elsewhere, there are probably 20 dining spots just around the Oak brook Center.

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at Singin”

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