“That glorious feeling” of singing and dancing through puddles is what Drayton Entertainment is looking to give audiences in its production of Singin’ in the Rain.
Starting this weekend at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, Drayton performers will be taking the stage, bringing theatre goers back to the days of silent films. Based on the classic film starring Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly, the story is a spoof of the troubles movie studios encountered in the 1920s when movies went from silent to talkies. Main character Don Lockwood, played by Kelly, is the lead of a film the studio wants to turn into a talkie. There is a problem, however, when it is discovered, his leading lady, Lina Lamont, doesn’t sound too great on the audio tracks. After a chance meeting with chorus girl Kathy Selden, Lockwood brings her on to record all of Lamont’s lines and songs to be featured in the new movie. Lamont isn’t happy about being dubbed over by a chorus girl and hijinks ensue.
The story takes the audience on a ride, filled with classic songs like the title track “Singin’ in the Rain,” “All I Do Is Dream of You” and “Good Morning.”
Drayton veteran Jayme Armstrong will be filling the role of Lina Lamont, with Timothy Gledhill as Don Lockwood. Kayla James will be playing the talented chorus girl Kathy Selden.
Jay T. Schramek will be playing Lockwood’s lifelong friend Cosmo Brown (played in the movie by Donald O’Connor). He’s a career tap dancer invited to work on the Drayton revival of Singin’ in the Rain as assistant choreographer.
He says the show is sure to have audiences talking.
“The show is such an ambitious show, so many theatre companies are reticent to do it because it is such a daunting project, with rain, all the technical elements, and as you may know, there is quite a bit of multimedia in the piece,” he said. “It is going to be amazing. We spent a day (last week) just bringing the piece to the stage, and it just looks wonderful.”
Although he now lives in Toronto working as a performer, Schramek says he always makes a point to work in Waterloo Region as often as possible, and this show was no exception.
“I always come back to Kitchener-Waterloo because it holds the highest caliber of dancing in Ontario,” he said, adding that Singin’ in the Rain is one of his favourite shows to put on. “This is the fourth time I have done this production and we are in such great shape. There are so many little things that can undo a show, but we just seem to be on such a great track.”
To Schramek, the story told in Singin’ in the Rain is timeless, and the main messages are still relevant in today’s hi-tech world. Technology is being rendered obsolete every day.
“It is really about how technology antiquates people in the same way that technology antiquated Blockbuster video stores, for example,” he said. “It can change things on a dime, and here, we have a story of actors moving from the Broadway stages into a life on screen as sound was integrated into movies.”
Although the original musical was released in 1952, Schramek says the story crosses generational lines and is something everyone can enjoy and sing along with.
“What I would love for people to take away is the generation who already knows Singin’ In The Rain, to re-communicate the story again into the younger generations. Certain pieces are timeless and I really think this is one of those pieces that continues to inspire and I also feel like certain pieces speak to certain demographics, but this is one of those that people from every generation can enjoy,” he said.
Tickets are selling fast, so Schramek says don’t wait if you are planning on seeing the classic story take the stage in St. Jacobs.
The show starts its formal run on Mar. 23, and goes until Apr. 6. There are both matinee and evening shows, and some are already sold out. Tickets start at $27 and can be purchased at www.draytonentertainment.com or by calling 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).