Theater Info for Maryland

Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre Singin’ in the Rain

By • Apr 7th, 2014 • Category: Reviews
Singin’ in the Rain
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, Frederick, MD
Through May 31st
2:10 with intermission
$43-$47/$33-$37 Children/$25 Show Only
Reviewed March 28th, 2014

Singin’ in the Rain is the quintessential throwback to the early age of American movie-musicals. As a film before it was ever a stage show, it is a classic story with well-known songs and extended dance sequences. It travels back to the dawning of a new era in filmmaking — the talking picture. The story surrounds stars of the silent screen making the transition to these new movies, through a myriad of trials and a smattering of romance. Unfortunately, not all of this translates to the current production at Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre in the way that one would hope.

There are some very nice things to say about this production. The choreography is smart. It is not overly intricate, and the ease of the movement allows the cast to execute it with exact precision. Rather than trying to go too big and ending up sloppy, it stays right where it can be very effective. The show has some great technical elements, including the awesome choice to have it actually rain on the stage. There are some strong performances in supporting and ensemble roles. Most notable is Matthew A. Mastromatteo in his turn as the Diction Coach. The ensemble is also vocally strong, and there are very nice harmonies showcased in “You Stepped Out of a Dream.”

Unfortunately, this production falters in the hands of its leading actors, and there is little that anything else can do to get past that fact. An otherwise strong triple-threat, Jordan B. Stocksdale seems uncomfortable in the skin of Don Lockwood. While he comes to life in the dance sequences and performance numbers, the rest of Don — what should be the real Don — seems confused and forced. Even his beautiful tenor voice is mismatched and rarely well showcased in this particular score. Don Lockwood is just not the right role, and Stocksdale’s stilted performance seems to indicate that he is well aware of the disconnect.

Playing opposite Stocksdale is the equally miscast Jamie Lea Kiska. While Kiska has previously shown her adroit skill in playing comedy, Kathy feels a forced joke without a punchline. As Kathy, Kiska comes across as too over-the-top and too forced. She never achieves the simple whimsy of the ingénue. Additionally, Kiska doesn’t fare well vocally in this show. It is hard to believe that the other characters are awed by her voice, as she falters on the pitch and lacks power. Making it worse is that, as Stocksdale and Kiska flounder in their roles, they are not able to develop any believable chemistry.

Jospeh Waeyaert almost hits the mark as Cosmo. He has a likeability, a decent voice, and some great physical comedy moments. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite get big enough or distinct enough in the creation of his character.

The one principal who does shine, and, in this production, seriously outshines all the rest is Melissa Ann Martin. Her Lina Lamont is spot-on. She is absolutely hilarious and nails each comedic line and look. She is also unable to disguise her strong, beautiful vocals, even as she tries to downplay them in the hilarious treasure of a moment that is “What’s Wrong With Me?” Her performance alone almost makes all of the other missteps worth it.

Not all great performers are great in all roles. Way Off Broadway has proven time and time again to have incredibly talented performers and put on high-quality productions. This time, simple miscasting has caused them to miss the mark. Hopefully, they will be able to write this off as a lesson learned.

The Cast

  • Dora Bailey: Tina M. Bruley/Megan West
  • R. F. Simpson: Samn Huffer
  • Roscoe Dexter: Zane L. Oberholzer, Jr.
  • Cosmo Brown: Joseph Waeyaert
  • Lina Lamont: Melissa Ann Martin
  • Don Lockwood: Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Rod: Matthew Crawford
  • Kathy Selden: Jaimie Lea Kiska
  • Production Tenor: Charlie Cizek
  • Sid Phillips: Phil Vannoorbeeck
  • Miss Dinsmore: Tina M. Bruley/Megan West
  • Diction Coach: Matthew A. Mastromatteo
  • Zelda Zanders: Chelsea Bondarenko
  • Ensemble: Chelsea Bondarenko, Tina M. Bruley, Mary Ellen Cameron, Charlie Cizek, Matthew Crawford, Rebecca Eastman, Kaitlyn Huffman, Matthew A. Mastromatteo, Phil Vannoorbeeck, Joseph Waeyaert
  • Standbys and Swings: Jessica Billones, Megan West

Behind the Scenes

  • Director: Bill Kiska
  • Choreographer: Dee Buchanan
  • Music Director: Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Stage Manager: Matthew A. Mastromatteo
  • Orchestration and Arrangements: Bill Kiska and Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Lighting Design: Justin M. Kiska
  • Light Board Operator: Trey T. Kiska
  • Sound: Bill Kiska
  • Set Design: Bill Kiska and Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Set Construction: Bill Kiska, Trey T. Kiska, Jordan Stocksdale
  • Costumes: Samn Huffer and Bill Kiska
  • Wigs: April Horn of Hair Worx Salon

Disclaimer: Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.