Music Takes Over Lesher Center
By: Charles Jarrett
Posted: February 13, 2013
I experienced true entertainment at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek this past weekend when I took in two outstanding productions, one a treasured 1950s musical, “Singin’ in the Rain,” and the other, “Old Wicked Songs,” a political drama immersed in music.
First, I have to congratulate Michale Butler’s foresight in securing the rights to “Old Wicked Songs,” an insightful, passionate and witty tale of conflict and bonding written by Jon Marans and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in drama in 1996.
Second, last week I wrote about my excitement with the soon-to-open Diablo Theatre Company’s production of an old-time musical favorite, “Singin’ in the Rain.” After attending a rehearsal, I was thoroughly enraptured with what has to be described as one of their most vibrant, exciting and rewarding musical productions in recent memory! I encouraged my readers to not miss this show and after seeing the full production I’m even more enthusiastic about the show.
I was absolutely thrilled by the exciting vitality and dedication demonstrated by the 32 talented actors, dancers and singers in the rehearsal of “Singin’ in the Rain.” I was even more wowed and richly rewarded over the weekend when I attended the opening performance of the actual production.
If you loved the 1952 MGM musical comedy movie, then I can practically guarantee that you will be more than impressed with this stellar production. This story of the transition trials and tribulations encountered by the movie industry as it moved from silent films to talking pictures lives again in this production.
Watching a rehearsal with piano accompaniment by the quintessential Kim Vetterli is one thing, but when eight more terrific musicians are added as well as the musical directional expertise of Cheryl Yee Glass, you get a rewarding musical experience.
The three lead Actors Equity performers, Keith Pinto (Gene Kelly in the movie), Melissa WolfKlain (Debbie Reynolds’ part) and Ryan Drummond (Donald O’Connor’s part) turn up the dancing heat again and again with numerous numbers, including the fun-filled “Moses Supposes,” “Good Morning” and an absolutely brilliant routine of the comedy dance scene made famous by the original “Cosmo Brown,” Donald O’Connor, titled “Make ‘Em Laugh,” excellently recreated by Drummond.
The famous dancing scene in the rain even includes real rain coming down on the actors as they dance up and down the rain-soaked street. Pinto and WolfKlain have gorgeous voices as do many of the talented contributors to this production. Lina Lamont, the squeaky voiced silent film star who plays opposite lead actor Don Lockwood in the “Dueling Cavalier” silent film, is played superbly by Mary Kalita.
The costumes in community theater are often less than excellent, but this time the company, with the help of their many contributing volunteers and costume designer, Carol Edlinger, did an excellent job. Even the set changers and movie studio workers wear costumes with the name of the motion picture company, Monumental Pictures, emblazoned on their backs, perfectly in keeping with a real motion picture set. The choreography under the direction of Staci Arriaga, the set design by Kelly James Tighe and the film and projection engineering by Eric Scanlon are all truly superlative.
I am so ecstatic about this wonderful example of the kind of work that Diablo Theatre does again and again, that I find it hard to find words adequate to share the excitement and pleasure I experienced from this show. At this point I simply want to get you to the theater before the tickets are all gone.
Once again, this terrific company wants to “make ‘em laugh,” “make ‘em feel good,” “make ‘em happy” and “make ‘em want to come back for more.” I’m sure all will agree with me that after seeing this show, the company has accomplished this and much more. Do not miss this outstanding production, as everybody will be talking about this one for a long time! It runs through March 2.
Tickets may be purchased by visiting the company’s website at www.diablotheatre.org or by calling 943-7469.