After a winter of weathery discontent, “Singin’ in the Rain” at Westchester Broadway Theatre does the unthinkable: It actually makes you wish it would rain one more time.
Yes, it rains on the stage in Elmsford during the iconic title song, when silent-film star Don Lockwood (Jeremy Benton) flies high on his love for up-and-coming actress Kathy Seldon (Shannon M. O’Bryan).
Benton playfully splashes those in the front row and croons:
“I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again.”
It’s such a gleeful moment that when the song is reprised at the curtain call — and the entire company returns in yellow rain slickers and clear plastic umbrellas — you wish they’d turn the spigot again.
But by then the sunbeams are smiling through on director-choreographer Richard Stafford’s cast.
This stage adaptation of the 1952 MGM classic film is faithful to Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s story (about a silent-film team faced with the advent of “talking pictures”) and Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed’s songs (“Make ’em Laugh,” “Good Mornin’” and that water-soaked title tune).
With a hard-working ensemble of dancers in Gail Baldoni’s wonderful costumes, and some fine performances in key roles, “Singin’ in the Rain” is a toe-tapping winner that is sure to satisfy.
Because it is so faithful to its source material, “Singin’ in the Rain” begs comparisons.
O’Bryan finds just the right mix of gee-wiz, smartness and gumption for Kathy Seldon, a role created by Debbie Reynolds. O’Bryan, a perky Peggy Sawyer in “42nd Street” at WBT last season, shines again.
As Don Lockwood, Benton won’t make you forget Gene Kelly. While he is likeable in the role, his dancing lacks the polish of the others, as in the extended “Broadway Melody” number when he missed a step and failed to lift his dance partner (the exceptional Alexa Glover as “The Girl in Green”).
In group numbers, Benton seems to disappear and his voice lacks the power one might expect from a leading man. (To be fair, Kelly wasn’t a powerful singer, either.)
On the other hand, Cody Williams’ portrayal of Don’s pal Cosmo Brown was confident and buoyant.
His signature song, “Make ’em Laugh” was spot-on, complete with the surprise ending that will be a surprise only to those few unfamiliar with the film. Still, re-creating those famous Donald O’Connor steps isn’t easy, and Williams delivers on all counts.
As a trio, O’Bryan, Benton and Williams fire on all cylinders with “Good Mornin’,” a long and intricate song-and-dance number. And Benton and O’Bryan have a sweet moment in “You Were Meant for Me” when they kindle their love, alone on a deserted sound stage.
It is Allie Schauer — as the petulant and squeaky silent-film star Lina Lamont — who gives the evening’s most self-assured and devastatingly funny performance, one to equal that of the film’s original, Jean Hagen (who was robbed of an Oscar).
In her every scene — whether she’s laboring under a towering wig or under the false impression that she and Don are engaged — Schauer confidently showers the audience with reasons to laugh.
She even dazzles when she’s not on stage, in a series of silent films expertly shot by Charles Hallock on location at Alder Manor in Yonkers and shown on the dinner theater’s four giant screens.
The camera loves Lina, even if the microphone doesn’t. And there’s plenty to love about Schauer’s performance.
In number after number, the ensemble proves its worth, from “Beautiful Girls” to “Moses Supposes” to the demanding showpiece, “Broadway Melody,” which presents a kaleidoscope of dance styles with some pretty stage pictures.
After this winter, Westchester audiences know what precipitation brings.
At intermission, when the crew emerged with Wetvacs and squeegees to clean up after “Singin’ in the Rain,” you could almost feel a shudder run through the milling audience.
But by the time the curtain call came around, thoughts of a flooded Saw Mill had all but evaporated.
“Singin’ in the Rain” Through June 12. Wednesday and Thursday matinees, with lunch at 11:30 and show at 1 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday evenings, dinner at 6:30, show at 8; Sunday matinees, lunch at noon, show at 1:30; Sunday evenings, dinner at 5:30, show at 7 p.m. Westchester Broadway Theatre, 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford. $52 to 75, depending on the performance. Discounts for students, seniors and groups at select performances. 914-592-2222. Go to the Westchester Broadway Theatre website.
Photo by John Vecchiolla: Allie Schauer is Lina Lamont in “Singin’ in the Rain” at Westchester Broadway Theatre.