Girls Only. The trouble with Girls Only, a two-woman evening of conversation, skits, singing, improvisation and audience participation, is that it's so relentlessly nice. Creator-performers Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein have worked together for many years; at some point, they read their early diaries to each other and were transfixed by the similarities and differences they found in them, as well as the insights they gained into their own psyches and the travails of puberty. This theater piece was developed from that material — but not all of that material. "I purposely don't read every diary entry in the show, because it turns out I was kind of mean, and I don't want to be mean," Klein told an interviewer. But mean is funny, and when you cut it out entirely, what do you have to joke about? Girly pink bedrooms, purses, bras, skinny models in glossy magazines. Every time they tell a story with the tiniest bite to it, Gehring and Klein — both talented and appealing stage performers — move instantly to reassure us that they don't mean it. At one point Klein relates an interesting tale about how she came to possess the badly taxidermied body of an electrocuted squirrel as a child; the minute she's completed this funny, freaky moment in an otherwise highly predictable evening, she gives a pouty, don't-get-me-wrong grin and sweetly caresses the squirrel's head. There's enough good material here for a tight, funny, one-hour-long show, but this one stretches on and on, as if Klein and Gehring had been determined to throw every single joke and piece of shtick that occurred to them in the script. Presented by Denver Center Attractions through January 17, Garner Galleria Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org. Reviewed September 18, 2008.
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Singin' in the Rain. The 1952 movie starring Donald O'Connor, Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds became a play thirty years later. It's the story of a glamorous Hollywood couple, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, and what happens to them during the transition from silent movies to the talkies: Don comes through pretty well, but Lina's voice is a harsh, squeaking disaster that threatens to sink the studio. Enter Kathy Selden, who wants to be a serious stage actress. Don falls for her — much to Lina's chagrin — and persuades her to lend her warm, smooth speaking and singing tones to the cause: Dubbing, newly invented, saves the film. There's much to recommend in this production of Singin' in the Rain: a fine orchestra; some terrific performances; the clever pieces of fake silent film; the company's usual exuberance; the choreography of Scott Beyette and Alicia Dunfee, who also play Don and Kathy; and the rain scene: Thunder sounds, the audience members nearest the stage hastily don company-provided slickers, and water jets, cascades and falls from the ceiling, soaking the wildly tapping Beyette, puddling on the stage and conveying an intense sense of freedom, shock and exhilaration. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through February 14, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com. Reviewed December 3.