Friday, June 06, 2008

REV: Singin' in the Rain

What a fun show i saw tonight, along with a couple hundred other privileged folk. The danger in staging a show like this is in not being able to round up the talent necesary to pull it off, and double trouble with doing a show like Heather Cunningham tried to pull off tonight is that bringing in a Broadway pro runs the risk of making the local folks pale by comparison.

Well, a) no worries about the talent! Even with a stage full of Theatre Academy students, there was enough animated goings-on, soaring voices, and lively dialogue to please an old jaded fool like me.That's a fine, fine stable of talent they've put together.

Then there's b). Make no mistake Austin Owen is not only a pro, he's a star. I've had the privilege of hearing that voice at work, and i've seen those brilliantly expressive eyes work their magic too, but tonight i saw the exercise of what may well be Austin's finest talent - his dancing. And to top it off, there he was on stage with a couple of locals who looked as though they'd ridden The Producers train with him. He was sensational, mesmerizing, flawless. His tapping is at a level i haven't seen since working with a TapKids show a few years back. And his dance in the rain was so much fuin.

But Tara Pannell was there too in the dance department and was wisely cast as the vocal backup who could hit the big notes. Which of course, in the course of the play, has its own inside joke -- that Jessica Roberts has a soaring, beautiful voice, but you only know that from her offstage scene. And let's talk about Jessica's stage voice -- a whiny, grating bronxian chalkboard screech. It's perfect. And quite frankly, while everyone was allowed their gratuitous moan at first hearing her, in fact the voice is so perfectly melded to the character that the humor of it outweighs any distraction it may cause.

Then there's Jake Asbury. He may very well be the next Austin Owen to come from our humble hills. He has a fine, fine voice, excellent comic timing, and perhaps owns that department in this show with his mocking faces scenes. But more than that he is an excellent dancer. He'll be worth the price of admission from now on too.

There are so many fine folks in the show i best not get too wordy about all of them, but new friends Brian Bondy and Neill Day were their usual hilarious selves, and the Academy kids i know were all delightful in every scene. Galen Graham and Marc West as assistant directors were funnier by the minute. All the ladies -- Sloan, Erin, Amanda, Lindsey, and on and on were great fun to watch.

And a special mention to Dale Green, who cracks me up routinely in his animated, bigger than life personas, and was just that -- bigger than life and sidesplitting as multiple characters, but especially his first assisatnt director with the highwater pants. You'll hear more about Dale from me soon because he's about to work on one of my projects.

I know i'm missing folks without the program here in front of me, so i'll apologize now and probably update later. So to sum it up for now - funny, entertaining show with a ton of fine talent onstage, proving that there is the talent to pull it off, and can hold our own with a truly giving pro onstage. Congrats to Heather and Jeff on bringing this sweet piece to fruition.


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