A fabulous cast is "Singin' in the Rain" at the Firehouse Arts Center through Nov. 23, presented by the Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre. The show, directed by David Judson, opened last weekend to sold-out audiences familiar with the beloved 1952 movie.
"It's such an iconic show, it was scary to put it onstage," co-artistic director Pat Parr said at a discussion between audience and actors after the Sunday matinee. "We've been blessed with this cast."
One woman in the audience said she was amazed that PCRT could produce such wonderful productions on the theater's small stage.
"This space offers many challenges and a huge opportunity for creativity," Parr answered. "This has been our most ambitious show from the standpoint of sets and all the aspects."
Set designer Patrick Brandon was indeed creative: The show begins outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and the stage eventually morphs into a filming studio, the inside of a movie theater and more. The production cleverly weaves in scenes from an actual silent movie, shot behind the arts center. The musicians, directed by Brett Strader, are perched in a loft.
The talented cast of 24 sings and dances through 16 catchy numbers, imaginatively choreographed for the space by Staci Arriaga. Technical effects not only produce rain onstage for the title song but gently on the spectators as well, in keeping with the idea of audience participation in this intimate theater. Be sure to look up at the umbrellas during the rain sequence if you attend.
The story takes place in 1920s Hollywood at Monumental Pictures when its head, R.F. Simpson (Steve Wilner), realizes that his new silent movie must be changed to a "talkie" to succeed. Unfortunately no amount of diction lessons can help the grating Noo Yoik speech of the star, Lina Lamont (Brittany Danielle), so her leading man Don Lockwood (Justin Travis Buchs) and his friend Cosmo Brown (William Hoshida) hatch a plot to dub in the lyrical voice of aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Brandy Collazo).
The plot makes for hilarious situations and dialogue. The '20s costuming by Margaret daSilva is superb, from the checkered suits of vaudeville to the chorus lines to Lina's glamorous movie star ensembles. One ingenious scene shows the movie cast and crew watching a talkie for the first time, struggling to comprehend the change it portends for their industry. It starts the audience thinking, too.
Pat Parr noted the professionalism of the cast, which includes two Equity actors. Their comedic talents were on display as well as their fluid dancing and impressive singing voices.
"We work on a pro's schedule with only three weeks of rehearsal," Parr said. "We have to trust that we hired the right people."
The engaged audience certainly seemed to agree that, yes, once again Pleasanton's resident musical theater company had put together the perfect cast for this classic of the film and stage. The finale had the audience humming as it left the theater, and perhaps surprised to find it still dry outside.
For tickets, go to www.firehousearts.org or call 931-4848.