Singin’ in the Rain, the beloved American musical comedy about Hollywood, music, dance and romance comes to Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts
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Handsome, dashing Don Lockwood was the brightest star in Hollywood. But would his career survive the new sound technology that was changing the way movies were made?
With amazing songs, razor-sharp comedy, sweet romance and buoyant dance numbers – including the show-stopping title number – Diablo Theatre Company’s production of the classic American musical Singin’ in the Rain (February 8 – March 2) transports audiences back to one of America’s great gilded age, Hollywood at the end of the silent film era.
Based on the beloved 1952 MGM musical, Diablo Theatre Company’s Singin’ in the Rain is set in the roaring ‘20s when movie stars like Don Lockwood and his glamorous co-star Lina Lamont were America’s royalty. On screen and off, they enjoyed lives of unimaginable fame and splendor.
But it couldn’t last. Times change, and technology in the 20th century was rushing forward. In 1927, “talking pictures” were the wave of entertainment’s future. Careers and fortunes crashed along with the love for silent film and for many of its stars.
Some artists survived and thrived and new stars were born. The film Singin’ in the Rain endures as America’s best movie musical (according to the American Film Institute) because, among other things, it tells a story of hope, resilience and the power of friendship and love to see us through tough times. It’s the ultimate feel-good show, accompanied by a hit parade of songs, including “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Good Morning”, and “Make ‘Em Laugh.”
Singin’ in the Rain originated in the MGM studios unit that produced its great catalog of musicals through the 1930s and 1940s. After the success of An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly, producer Arthur Freed cobbled together Singin’ in the Rain as a vehicle for Kelly. He used songs from earlier MGM movies and hired the great writing duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green to pen a charming and witty screenplay that offers plenty of insider swipes at the Hollywood dream factory. The film was a modest success upon release, but its reputation grew over the decades as new generations of movie fans and critics fell in love all over again with its story, its music, and its legendary dance numbers.
Comden and Green faithfully recreated the story and musical numbers for the stage adaptation, which first premiered in London and on Broadway in the 1980s.
To recreate Hollywood circa 1927, Diablo Theatre Company is thinking on a grand Busby Berkeley/Cecil B. DeMille scale. The show features a cast of 32, including very talented Bay Area pros, as well as lavish sets and glamorous period gowns. Diablo Theatre Company has also brought in award-winning scenic designer Kelly Tighe to make it rain on the Lesher Center’s Hofmann Theatre stage.
McBride is very excited about stars Keith Pinto, Ryan Drummond, Melissa WolfKlain and Mary Kalita, and all the cast who can handle a song-and-dance-intensive comedy. She calls Pinto, who plays heartthrob Don Lockwood, a “triple threat” – actor, choreographer and dancer. The acrobatic Ryan Drummond, who also is a professional clown, plays Cosmo Brown, Don’s best friend and performing sidekick. Melissa WolfKlain returns to the role of ingénue Kathy Selden, Don’s love interest, after receiving the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Award for playing the role in a previous Singin’ in the Rain production with Broadway by the Bay.
For the key role of Lina Lamont – a shrieky-voiced Judy Holliday-style blond, who is both the show’s villain and comic relief – the company cast Mary Kalita. “She’s a wonderful comedienne,” McBride says.
Joining McBride on the production side are choreographer Staci Arriaga, music director Cheryl Yee Glass, and vocal director Chad Runyan. As for how Tighe will create the downpour that allows Pinto to sing in the rain and dance and splash his way into celebrating love and the promise of new beginnings, McBride promises, “There will be rain, and it will be gorgeous.”
Featuring: Keith Pinto (Don Lockwood), Ryan Drummond (Cosmo Brown), Melissa WolfKlain (Kathy Selden), and Mary Kalita (Lina Lamont)
Ensemble: Staci Arriaga, Carolyn August, Ethan Bell, Peter Budinger, Randy Burke, Kristin Butler, Justin Cole, Nathan Correll, Larry Crummer, Deirdre Cruz, Caleb Haven Draper, Trevor Gomez, Carmen Hanson, Lexi Hart, Melissa Heinrich, Meghan Ihle, Ali Lane, Scott Maraj, Robin Murray, Nikki Nickerson, Melissa Reinertson, Aris-Allen Roberson, DC Scarpelli, Brian Sterling, Kyle Stoner, Sean Stover, Kyle Valentine, Skye Violet Wilson
WHAT: Diablo Theatre Company’s production of Singin’ in the Rain
WHEN: 8 p.m. – February 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, March 1 and 2 and 2 p.m. – February 16, 17, 23 and 24
WHERE: Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek – Hofmann Theatre
TICKETS: $35-$53 (925) 943-7469; www.lesherartscenter.org, www.diablotheatre.org