Theater Review: NCT has us all singing and dancing in the rain

May 15, 2014 Heather Chin
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Any conversation about Narrows Community Theater’s (NCT) spring production of “Singin’ in the Rain” will inevitably include an exclamation of “how amazing was that dancing!”

That is because the dancing, choreographed by director/choreographer David Paul Kidder, is the showstopper, captivating the audience in well-known numbers like “Make ‘Em Laugh” and “Good Mornin’,” while adding effortless elegance to logistically tricky (It’s rain! On a theater stage!) scenes like the titular “Singin’ in the Rain,” and transforming catchy songs like “Moses Supposes” and melodies like “Broadway Rhythm” into toe-tapping, visually-stimulating entertainment.

Michael Santora and Justin Ryan have an effortless camaraderie as scrappy best friends who grew up to take on Hollywood as debonair leading man and effusive musical wunderkind Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown—originally portrayed by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in the classic 1952 movie musical.

Santora somehow manages to wear the broadest smile imaginable throughout each of his dance sequences—even when he’s soaking wet and tapping through stage-rain—imbuing Don with the charm needed to win over Marissa Giglio’s earnest and equally winning ingénue Kathy Selden. That smile—and its occasional absence—also served to show the contrast between Don’s growing affection for Kathy, versus his professional relationship with Maggie McGuire’s hilariously devious, yet relatable, silent screen starlet Lina Lamont.

Meanwhile, Ryan is a scene stealer with his take on the talented, irrepressible Cosmo, making him more than just a trusty sidekick. His dance and comic skills are particularly evident in “Make ‘Em Laugh” and “Good Mornin’,” and he and Santora shine equally in their fun, synchronized and perfectly enunciated performance in “Moses Supposes.”

As for the ensemble cast of dancers, it would be a mistake to overlook their contributions to NCT’s overall production, as their skills are as evident as their demeanors are bright. Bravo to them!

Of course, the dancing’s scene partner is the music and lyrics, composed by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed and presented wonderfully inside the Fort Hamilton Army Base theater by NCT Music Director Sean Cameron.

Here, Giglio and McGuire shine in their respective roles as romantic rivals and as the songbird-on-the-rise and the star-who-can’t-sing. Giglio’s rendition of “Would You” suits her character’s sweet nature perfectly and her voice harmonizes well with Santora’s in their duets.

Meanwhile, McGuire’s take on “What’s Wrong With Me” manages to give the audience a glimpse into a Lina Lamont that is less a scheming villainess and more a casualty of the game-changing shift from silent films to talkies within the movie industry. McGuire can obviously sing and to hear her purposely singing badly as larger-than-life Lina is an impressive feat.

Last, but not least, the humor, dedication and technical skill and direction by and from the supporting cast and crew combine to make this fantastic production—both on stage and in the pre-recorded black-and-white film snippets—shine.

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