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Jeremy Benton, Gretchen Bieber Lift Patchogue’s ‘Singin in the Rain’

'Singin in the Rain' at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts is a magical production of the musical.

‘Singin in the Rain’ at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts is a magical production of the musical.

Jeremy Benton and Gretchen Bieber are magical in Singin’ in the Rain at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. And rain it does: Laughs, fancy footwork and melodious tunes are awash in real water.

In a space comparable to the comfort of a Broadway theater, Director Rick Conant’s incarnation of the hit musical, running through Aug. 10, lives up to the show’s reputation as one of the best to ever hit the stage.

Conant directs a large cast of talented actors, all of whom are decked out in impeccable 1920s garb. Benton is adept at playing a famous everyman, and is dashing and humorous in all the right places.

Adapted from the original screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, Singin’ in the Rain is an easily accessible, romantic comedy.

It follows fading silent screen stars Don Lockwood (Benton) and Lina Lamont (Bieber) as they try to hang on to their lustrous careers despite the advent of the talkie, and the challenge of Lamont’s squealing voice.

Fellow performers Cosmo Brown (John Scacchetti) and aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Shannon O’Bryan) join down-on-his-luck Lockwood to turn his film, “The Dueling Cavalier” into “The Dancing Cavalier.” But Selden must perform Lamont’s vocals.

Bieber is sensationally grating and dopey as Lamont. Her hilariously over-the-top dialect is brilliant, especially when Lina must take elocution lessons to improve her performance in front of the camera. Her big Act II number, “What’s Wrong With Me?” is ironic, only in the sense that Bieber’s performance is perfect.

O’Bryan’s voice is well-toned and strong, and she gives Selden a fun, sassy edge.

Only Cosmo feels a bit miscast. But Scacchetti has a lot to live up to. Donald O’Connor won a Golden Globe for the role when he starred in the 1952 film. Scacchetti’s rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh” seems to do anything but. It suffers from awkward pauses and poorly directed use of significant props.

Though Kelli Barclay’s choreography is a bit safe at times, it is entertaining in such numbers as “Good Mornin’,” when the actors tap up and down stairs and flip a couch onto its back.

“Singin’ in the Rain” is also a high point, as Benton struts through cascading rain, tipping his hat and umbrella to passersby. In the show-stopping Broadway number, Barclay’s moves are energetic and well-synchronized. However, the real pop in the production comes from Trevor Bowen’s costumes.

Never does the stage not dazzle with sparkles, feathers and fringe, a constant complement to the actors’ talents and Jeff Modereger’s well-designed sets. From Graumann’s Chinese Theatre to a studio mansion, the stage is transformed with minimal pieces.

Whether you’re experiencing Singin’ in the Rain for the first time or the 50th, and whether you’ve seen it on stage or on screen, the Patchogue Theatre’s production will feel revitalizing and different.

The show is an enjoyable reminder as to what makes musical theater on Long Island so special.

For tickets, performance times or other inquiries call 631-286-1133 or 1-888-4TIXNOW, or visit www.pacsc.org.

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