The 1952 film version of Singin’ in the Rain is iconic, though it took a while to achieve that status. Directed by and starring Gene Kelly, along with Stanley Donen, it also starred Donald O’Connor as Cosmo Brown, Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden, and Jean Hagen as the farcical villain, Lina La Mont. Some consider it to be the best movie musical ever made, and audiences immediately recognize Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood splashing about in the title number. Hollywood was slow to recognize the film with awards, though by the 1960s no less a celebrity critic than Pauline Kael was heralding it as best movie musical. When Congress decided to make certain that the best US films would be preserved, Singin in the Rain was high on that list.
A stage version followed, which adhered closely to the film version. This version credited original writers Betty Comden and Adolf Green, and songs like “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Good Morning,” and “You Are My Lucky Star,” by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. The stage version may be rented with what’s called a “Performance Accompaniment Recording” which can be used in lieu of live accompaniment. Carlsbad’s New Village Arts is producing with this recording, and while I’ve had past reservations about “tracks,” I found this version to fill the bill nicely.
In fact, AJ Knox’s production also fills the bill nicely, thanks to attractive leads who are fine singers, and excellent music direction by Nina Gilbert and Korrie Yamaoka, along with choreography by Katie Banville and Jenna Ingrassia-Knox.
Those attractive leads are Anthony Michael Vacio as Don Lockwood, Xavier J. Bush as Cosmo Brown, Emma Nossal as Kathy Selden, and Audrey Ward as Lina Lamont. Other speaking roles are played by Kiara Hudlin as studio head R. F. Simpson and Nick Siljander as film director Roscoe Dexter. There is a large ensemble, whose members are Olivia Pence, Cara Tafolla, Kylie Young, Marcy Ledvinka, Hunter Brown, Kaia Bulger, Rachel Ford, Max Lecanu-Fayet, Ethan Marr, Stepphanie Monis, Reid Moriarty, and Jose Emanuel Prete who serves as the Swing, ready to go on in several roles.
The production is more utilitarian than elegant. Kristianne Kurner’s scenic design features large rolling superstructures, and there’s no real water on stage, only projections designed by Ethan Eldred. Amanda Quivey designed the costumes, Annelise Salazar served as lighting designer, and Mr. Eldred and Marcus Rico designed the crystal-clear sound. At least the “rain” didn’t drown out the performers, as has happened in other productions.
The show, last in NVA’s current season, has a long run, through July 2. NVA has announced its next season, which features two musicals. North County has a wealth of young talent, as Moonlight Stage Productions has consistently demonstrated, and theatregoers can look forward to many enjoyable performances in 2023-24.
Regular performances are held on Thursdays: 7:30 p.m. Fridays: 8:00 p.m. Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays: 2:00 p.m. There are some Wednesday matinees available – check the website for details. Free parking is available in city lots, though it is shared with train travelers, so some searching might be necessary. There are also many restaurants in the area. Inquire about a combination of a meal when purchasing tickets.