Category Archives: 2022

“Singing in the Rain” – Not To Be Missed!

Candlelight Dinner Playhouse Dazzles The Audience And Even Rains On Some!

Reviewed by Tom Jones
April 29, 2022

Standing ovations are rare in dinner theater shows, and applause during an actual dance routine is nearly unheard of. Audience response to “Singing in the Rain” opening night at Candlelight was remarkable as applause nearly stopped a dance routine and a standing ovation completed the final curtain call. But in fact, everything about this production is “remarkable.

Kate Vallee brings excitement to the stage as director and choreographer. Her talents are enormous, with a background that includes performing as part of the famous New York City Radio City Rockettes. Timing in outstanding in this jewel of a production. Dancing is about as impressive as anything previously provided on local stages.

Photo Credit RDG Photography

Denver native Matthew Dailey stars as silent movie star Don Lockwood in 1927 Hollywood. Dailey is a newcomer to Candlelight, and hopefully he will return frequently. He is a polished performer with super skills as an actor, singer, and dancer. He is a treasure to see in motion, so light on his feet that even Gene Kelly could be in awe. Rachel Turner, a Candlelight favorite, is teamed with Dailey as Kathy Selden, a performing newcomer with potential. She continues to bring joy to the stage each time she appears. She and Dailey have great chemistry and believability.

Photo Credit RDG Photography

Stephen Turner is Cosmo Brown, Lockwood’s longtime friend and burlesque partner with no bones in a body that can move in every direction – at the same time. The flashbacks of him and Don Lockwood’s burlesque days are enormous fun. Another longtime Candlelight wonder, Alisha Winter Hayes, sparkles as the over-the-top diva, Lina Lamont, who photographs well, but has few other skills. Hayes, who plays Lina, on the other hand, is enormously skillful with sly winks, an impossibly obnoxious voice and a commanding presence

This quartet of talents is backed by a glorious ensemble with some taking more than one part. Michele Jeffres keeps backstage crew busy as she changes wigs and costumes to appear in at least three roles—all delightful.

Photo Credit RDG Photography

The movie version of “Singing in the Rain” was a 1952 American musical romantic comedy film. It starred Gene Kelly, Donald O’Conner, and Debbie Reynolds (who was only 19 at the time)! Choreography was by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. The movie was not a run-away hit when first released. It has subsequently become a classic, however, now on many lists as one of the best musical films ever made. A Broadway stage version opened in 1985 and enjoyed only a limited run.

Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are stars of Hollywood’s silent move era. Lockwood is multi-talented, and has no desire to be Lamont’s boyfriend. Lamont is an unabated love-crazed movie partner to Lockwood. She has no talents except for being photogenic. Her “romance” with Lockwood is a fantasy created by the gossip columnists and motion picture back-offices to maintain the public’s interest in showbiz. Unassuming Kathy Selden comes into the mix, meeting Lockwood while getting away from the crowds following a Lockwood movie premiere. She is a warm hearted, honest individual who immediately clashes with the wild over-the-top Lina Lamont.

Photo Credit RDG Photography

The plans to transfer an ill-fated silent film into a full length musical with sound are filled with terrific dancing and singing. The costumes are especially interesting, as is the set that has pieces moving on and off effortlessly, as if they are a moving picture. There is so much going on in this super production that it is impossible to lose interest. Among the technical wonders are the black and white film clips of the silent movies – starring the cast we see in real life on stage and prepared by the impressive team at The Creative Agency. Lighting, sound, costumes, dancing and singing combined to provide an unusually awesome evening. The orchestra is very good, under direction of Phil Forman.

“Singing in the Rain” provides exciting entertainment. Much of the music is well-known. The first few rows of the audience are provided with ponchos to keep dry while Matthew Dailey pulls out all the stops to sing and dance, and stomp in the rain-drenched stage at the conclusion of Act One.

Based on audience response on opening night, tickets might soon be gone to experience this delight.

“Singing in the Rain”
Through June 26th, 2022
Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
4747 Marketplace Drive
Johnstown,, CO 80534
Box Office 970/744-3747
Online: coloradocandlelight.com

“Murder on the Orient Express” Reigns As Whodunit Delight In Johnstown

Agatha Christie mystery is, simply said, “Enormously fun entertainment”

Reviewed by Tom Jones
March 18, 2022

Passengers congregate in Istanbul, to board the famous “Orient Express” train to travel to Western Europe in the 1930s. They are a disparate group, a mixture of unusual characters, with one of them (Mr. Ratchett) to turn up dead not long after departure from Istanbul. Who could have killed Ratchett? And was his name really ”Ratchett?” Fortunately, one of the train’s passengers is the famous detective Hercule Poirot. Can he solve the mystery?

Raja Salaymeh as Poirot. Photo Credit: The Creative Agency

For several years Raja Salaymeh was a talent to be reckoned with, primarily as owner of the Union Colony Dinner theatre in Greeley. He has been absent from local stages for much too long. His return to the stage as the detective Poirot is a reminder of how much he has been missed. He is excellent as the careful detective. Welcome back, Raja! And I am not giving away any secrets — he does solve the mystery before the train arrives in Western Europe!

The Cast Photo Credit: The Creative Agency

Candlelight is highly respected for its super musical productions and has taken a risk with producing a music-less show. It succeeds in every way. While Salaymeh is the show’s “star,’ he shares the stage with a super cast of talents. These “talents” are not only the performers, but the staging itself. The cars of Orient Express train fit nicely onto the stage with a great rendition of the train designed by Casey Kearns, with Master Carpentry by Dave MacEachen, and Scenic Painting by Joel Adam Chavez and Lelah Radostis. Lighting, costumes, and sound are excellent. For most Candlelight productions mention is made of “Choreographer.” As “Murder” is not a musical, it has no dancing, but credit is given to Miranda Guettlein as “Dialect Coach.” She has done a great job with the cast’s diction. The sound system is at its best, and there was no problem in understanding virtually everything that was spoken in the entire show.

Playwright Ken Ludwig has done a very good job transferring Agatha Christie’s 1934 worldwide favorite “Murder” story to the stage. Director Kenny Moten has taken the Ludwig work and wondrously transferred it to the Candlelight stage. Moten is one of those theatrical magicians who appear to be able to do just about everything from performing to directing.

“Hugh Butterfield and Sarah Gibson, as the train departs Istanbul.” Photo Credit: The Creative Agency

The train’s passengers include a super cast of Candlelight favorites and new faces playing roles secrets that make them possible murderers. But not to worry, Poirot will find who dunnit! In the meantime, the audience can watch the goings-on while the train is partially stalled in the mountains due to a freak snowstorm.

“Alexander Watson in the Istanbul fog” Photo Credit: The Creative Agency

Elliot Clough portrays Bouc, a longtime friend of Poirot who is Director of the Wagon Lits train Company. Chris Bain has two roles – Colonel Arbuthnot as well as the murdered Samuel Ratchett. Alexander Watson plays McQueen, secretary and translator for Ratchett. Hugh Butterfield, who has turned out to be one of Candlelight audiences’ favorites, turns up this time as Michel the train Steward, trying to take care of everyone on board when the train becomes snowbound. Samantha Jo Staggs is regal as Russian Princess Natalia, with Charlotte Lafonte as her travelling secretary, Mary. New to Candlelight audiences is Emily Valley, who portrays Greta, a Swedish missionary. Another new is Sarah Gibson as American widow, Helen. Her role is one of the show’s most interesting, and she is excellent!

Everything works to perfection in this clever tale. It is a one-of-a-kind theatrical delight. It does appear, however, that the show might be completely sold out for its entire run, so speed is required to check for tickets. Yes, this Agatha Christie mystery is, simply said “Enormously fun entertainment.”

Murder on the Orient Express
Through April 16, 3022
Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
4747 Marketplace Drive
Johnstown,, CO 80534
Box Office 970/744-3747
Online: www.coloradocandlelight.com