Saturday, May 7, 2011

REVIEW: Manatee Players have fun 'Singin' in the Rain'

 Kim Betts-Gingrich
Kim Betts-Gingrich has a wonderful singing voice. She speaks splendidly, too.

But not as loud-mouthed Lina Lamont.

She’s the villainous, vocally challenged leading lady of “Singin’ in the Rain.”

And the silent movie star will to do just about anything to survive the advent of sound films.

Talking more like a truck driver than a gorgeous screen queen, Betts-Gingrich peppers the Manatee Players’ impressive production with ample laughs.

The musical is based on the classic film of the same name

And getting unfair Gene Kelly comparisons out of your head at times will likely prove difficult.

But Dewayne Barrett, who also choreographed the show, still shines as leading man Don Lockwood.

His greatest accomplishment comes at the end of the first act.

After already singing and dancing through the previous three numbers, Barrett received a well-deserved round of thunderous applause for his performance in the unforgettable title sequence.

And, yes, director Rick Kerby made it rain, which easily ranks as the show’s most stunning scene.

As for providing chuckles, Jonah Wright, playing Lockwood’s pal Cosmo Brown, also elicited quite a few — and not just when he sang “Make ’Em Laugh.”

In the singing department, all the cast members were adequate or better, but Andrea Wright, portraying aspiring actress and Lockwood’s love interest Kathy Selden, turned in particularly remarkable vocal performances.

The showers came again for the finale featuring the entire cast reprising the title song, ending the show on a fittingly fun note — the audience visibly and audibly satisfied.

Among the attendees at the Thursday opening of “Singin’ in the Rain,” which runs through May 22 and closes the Manatee Players season, sat a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Dickey Betts, the singer/songwriter/guitarist responsible for such Allman Brothers Band gems as “Blue Sky,” “Jessica” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” gushed during the after party about his daughter Betts-Gingrich’s superb portrayal of the musical’s beautiful but rough-sounding baddie.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen her perform,” Betts said with a broad smile. “I’m so proud.”

Betts-Gingrich is a vocal instructor at her Parrish studio.

“It was hard singing off pitch,” she said. “Not so much for me,” joked her dad, the voice and composer of the Allman Brothers biggest hit, “Ramblin’ Man.”

Click for info on tickets, showtimes, etc.

Read my previous story "Manatee Players prepare to make it 'rain.'"

This review appears on page 2A of today's Bradenton Herald.

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