The Huntington University Theatre Company will present Betty Comden’s and Adolph Green’s “Singin’ in the Rain” Nov. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22, with a special educational matinee on Nov. 12.
The musical is adapted from the original “Singin’ in the Rain” 1952 film, with the plot following the movie’s plot almost exactly. Set in Hollywood as silent films are becoming less popular, the show is about Don Lockwood, his close friend Cosmo Brown, aspiring actress Kathy Selden and Lockwood’s (and Hollywood’s) leading lady, Lina Lamont, who is not a typical Hollywood actress because of her let’s say, unique, voice.
“It’s a great style – the grand musicals of the 50s,” Jay Duffer, associate professor of theatre arts and director of the show, said.
The show is proving to be more popular than Duffer first anticipated.
“I’m always surprised when we announce the new season how [theatre] students respond because I didn’t even know they were aware of [‘Singin’ in the Rain’],” Duffer said. “And they all loved it. This one everybody at least knew some lines or songs from.”
In fact, the special educational matinee for surrounding schools sold out in a matter of hours.
Because the musical performances require clips from films that feature characters like Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont to be shown, senior Mathis Glover, as part of a project he is in charge of, filmed the cast for those films that will be shown during the musical performances.
“He’s coordinated all these film sequences in September, and he’s been working on those,” Duffer said.
Because these films are silent, Duffer directed the actors for each of their movements while the sequences were being shot.
“In the silent films, the director is shouting directions so when we were actually filming it … if you were to add the sound, you would be able to hear me [directing],” Duffer said. “I was able to direct them, which is sort of charming in the same way a [director of a] silent film would direct the actors, just talking them through the action.”
Duffer said “this is a huge technical show with a lot of moving parts.”
Ideas about making it rain in Zurcher Auditorium during performances are being talked about and planned.
“Really our biggest challenge is pulling of this set design,” Duffer said. “We want to do it justice. [Making it rain] is the plan right now. The prototype of what we are doing is being produced right now, and if it works, we’ll go into full production of it.”
As for the show’s performers, Duffer said “Singin’ in the Rain is “challenging for everyone involved because not a lot of the cast has had tap, and a lot of the numbers are predominantly tap.”
The actors, however, are finding the show to be a good challenge.
“I’m most excited to see the dance numbers come together,” senior Matt Burtless-Crepps said. “We’ve got a core group of really dedicated and talented performers and an ensemble that’s giving it their all. The numbers have been looking fantastic even this early on and I can’t wait to see what they look like after they’ve been polished with practice.”
Duffer also said that the cast is hard-working and dedicated, and he said that their hard work will hopefully pay off.
“It always makes me nervous for everything to come together,” Duffer said. “I know it will, but also, for it to come together for the high quality that we expect here at Huntington.”
Burtless-Crepps, originally cast as Don Lockwood for his senior project, injured his foot after auditions took place, causing a shift in casting to take place. Crepps was moved to non-dancing roles, and senior Grant Fitzgerald moved from the role of Cosmo to Don Lockwood and junior Trenidy Cox was brought from the ensemble to play the role of Cosmo.
The timing of the accident was appropriate because it happened before rehearsals.
“The timing wasn’t good in the fact that he hurt himself but it was good in the fact that, when it happened, we were able to recover with plenty of notice.”
Currently, Burtless-Crepps’ role in the show is being evaluated because of further complications with his injury.
“My plan is to still keep him in the show and use him how I can, and he might adopt more of a backstage kind of position,” Duffer said.
Burtless-Crepps will have a senior project, Duffer said, but the details are still being worked out.
Tickets are available at the box office.