Stagebeat

 Singin' in the Rain, a lighthearted film, has been translated into a Broadway musical. It is 1927, and talkies have come into vogue. Diva Lina Lamont's voice is so dreadful that they dub in the angelic chanteuse Kathy Selden's (Margot de la Barre). Things get sticky when Lina (Laura Summerhill) insists that her "publicity" romance with on-screen partner Don Lockwood (Tim Falter) is real, though Don loves Kathy. This ambitious undertaking by JES doesn't flow until scene 10, with the song "Moses Supposes," which includes a great tap number by Courtier Simmons (Cosmo Brown) and Falter. The lag stems in part from technical issues -- everything from microphone static and lighting to control of special effects and curtains. The actors are often over-the-top, but they warm to their characters. The meat of the play is in the song and dance. Simmons monkeys about the stage doing some well-intentioned, roly-poly choreography over couches for "Make 'Em Laugh," but it comes off too contrived. He teams up with de la Barre and Falter for "Good Morning," with delightful results. But it's Falter's performance of "Singin' in the Rain" that everyone waits for; "real rain" falls, making it one of the most interesting moments on stage. Falter brings Gene Kelly charm into "Broadway Melody." Jill Styler is sultry as "the girl in the green dress," seducing Falter and then choosing diamonds instead of love, and enjoyable as a nasal-voiced socialite reporter, Dora Bailey. Summerhill hits home as Lina, an annoying and screechy-toned dumb blond. The show, the Hard Rock Casino's first Broadway venture, kicked off with Debbie Reynolds (above), star of the original, in attendance. Once the production gets the kinks out, it might be a hit. (Through November 12 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-327-7575.) -- Rachel Galvin

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Debbie Reynolds, star of the original, was in attendance opening night.
Debbie Reynolds, star of the original, was in attendance opening night.

Once on This Island: This folk musical about a poor Haitian girl who rescues, then falls in love with a handsome young aristocrat is a deceptively simple meditation on race, class, and gender politics. The story-theater-style show features a big, energetic cast in a colorful spectacle of a production, with splashy visuals. But while the show is easy on the eye, a muddy sound system makes it hard to hear, despite the company's strong vocal skills. Teddy Harrell Jr. directs with energy but without precision. (Through October 17 at Liberty Square Community Center, 6304 NW 14th Ave., Miami, 305-751-4043, aapact@yahoo.com.)

 
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