At their very best, top 10 lists are highly subjective, often influenced by what you saw last night, what you had for dinner or what you think your buddies would find funny.
"Singin' in the Rain," though, has always been on my all-time top 10 movie list. But until recently, I had never seen the show on the stage, and I don't really know why. Maybe I was afraid of being disappointed or maybe I was scared the stage musical would blow the movie version out of the water.
It turned out neither of those things happened. The movie still holds a sacred spot in my collection of memories, and the musical onstage is the same story, told in a very different way. And neither is better than the other, which was the best thing of all.
Diablo Theatre Company seems to be aware that "Singin' " fans are a spoiled and protective lot and went the extra mile to ensure a truly top-notch production of this loving tribute to the time when movies were just learning to talk. The cast, sets, direction, orchestrations and all the myriad things that go into producing a musical onstage were executed stunningly in this production, which runs at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts through March 2.
OK, full disclosure: Maybe I'm prejudiced because my camera was used as a prop in the production. Then again, the camera was only a small detail in a show filled with authentic period details of 1929. And one of the many impressive things about the show is the care that prop designer Debbie Shelley, costume designer Carol Edlinger and wig designer Judy Disbrow took in creating just the right look for the show.
Scenic designer Kelly James Tighe's set is a love letter to vintage movies. Augmenting all of this are film projections by Eric Scanlon, Chris Guptill's lights and Dyan McBride's direction.
Then there's the cast, all of whom seem to have a passion for the work. The smallest to largest roles are filled with actors who make this fanciful star-is-born story seem almost real and certainly entertaining.
And the leads are spectacular. Keith Pinto plays Don Lockwood, and he's the ultimate leading man. He's strong, dashing and romantic. He's also saddled with Lina Lamont (Mary Kalita), the leading lady from hell, who stands to lose her stardom with the rise of talking movies. She has a voice that could scratch a diamond and an iron will that refuses to let her stardom fade.
And that's where sweet Kathy Selden (Melissa WolfKlain) comes in. She first drew the wrath of Lamont when she accidentally hit her in the face with a cream pie at a Hollywood party. This brought her to the attention of Don Lockwood and his best pal, Cosmo Brown (Ryan Drummond). Don is paired with Lina in a movie, but he falls for Kathy.
Together, the three of them plot Kathy's seemingly limitless career. WolfKlain is a delight and would flat-out steal the show were it not for Drummond, who seems to have wings on his tap shoes, a rubbery face and all the chops needed to create a memorable Cosmo (played in the film by Donald O'Connor).
The music, under the direction of Cheryl Yee Glass, is superb, as is Staci Arriaga's choreography.
Contact Pat Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
'SINGIN' IN THE RAIN'
By Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed; presented by Diablo Theatre Company