ROCK SPRINGS – The Performing Arts Department at Western Wyoming Community College will present the song-and-dance classic “Singin’ in the Rain” at the WWCC Theatre beginning Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m., and continuing Saturday, Nov. 15, and Thursday, Nov. 20 through Saturday, Nov. 22. All evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and there will be one public matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m.
Directed by Assistant Professor of Musical Theater Chris Will, “Singin’ in the Rain” tells the story of Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, 1927 Hollywood’s star couple of the big screen for whom romance does not translate into real life. Don attempts to avoid romantic overtures from his co-star and instead falls in love with showgirl Kathy Selden. Assisted by Don’s best friend, Cosmo, the couple attempt to save Don’s career as the impending “talkie” revolution threatens to extinguish silent films forever.
“I feel like the show is kind of a clash between film and vaudeville,” Will said. “That’s what makes the show so fun. It’s got a little bit of vaudeville in it, but it’s got that new film aspect that, of course, we’re familiar with now. But back then, just to see someone talk live on the screen, people freaked out about that. So I think it’s an homage to the history of musical theater and the history of live entertainment.”
Featuring classic songs including “You Are My Lucky Star,” “You Were Meant for Me” and “Broadway Melody,” “Singin’ in the Rain” is a fun and vibrant musical for the entire family. Although audiences may well be familiar with the famous Gene Kelly-Debbie Reynolds film version, Western’s fresh take on the story and phenomenal new dance choreography will set this version apart, according to Will.
“I think we all know the movie. The movie is really famous,” he said. “But to see it live is what I think is going to make it special. To see the rain fall, to see all of the choreography and the dances live, is what I think is going to appeal to people. I think it’s going to blow people away.”
Dance Instructor Britta Joy Peterson choreographed most of the dance numbers for the production, while Assistant Professor of Music Josh Wentz assisted with the music. Both faculty members are in their first year at Western.
“This is a ‘20s-style show,” Peterson said. “There’s tap, there’s jazz, there’s social dance, there’s Follies-style showgirl movement.”
The show’s cast has toiled through nine-hour rehearsal sessions to master the choreography, and Peterson promised that some of the numbers will simply astound the audience.
“There are a couple of show-stoppers that are going to completely wow people,” she said. “I guarantee that you will be impressed.”
True to the show’s title, the big dance finale will take place in the rain. There will even be a “splash zone” of sorts, as audience members in the first two rows are very likely to get wet.
“Singin’ in the Rain” demonstrates the collaborative possibilities inherent in Western’s Performing Arts Department, which includes the Music, Dance, and Technical and Musical Theater programs. The programs formally coalesced into the single comprehensive department last year.
Blake Proberts, a first-year musical theater major from Wamsutter, said he is thrilled that an iconic show like “Singin’ in the Rain” is his very first musical at Western. Proberts, who plays the character of the Production Tenor, admitted that the dance preparation has been intensive but said all of that hard work will pay off on stage.
“It is worth it, and it looks awesome!” he said.
In addition to the dancing, Probert also gets to sword fight in one scene, and he said the “Beautiful Girl” number is a highlight for his character, whom he described as “squeaky clean and essentially a Ken doll.”
Marcie Murdock, a second-year musical theater major from Greeley, Colo., who plays the role of Kathy Selden, said that she could not be more excited about her character or the production.
“At first I thought Kathy was more on the cute and innocent side,” she said. “But as I have gotten to know her, I have realized that it’s more than that; she is confident in who she is, but in a humble way.”
Murdock offered high praise for Will’s direction and Peterson’s choreography, and said that “Singin’ in the Rain” is one show that audiences simply cannot miss.
“Britta Peterson, our choreographer, has done absolutely incredible things with the choreography in this show, especially with my favorite, ‘Good Morning,’” Murdock said. “You’ll want to come see this show, trust me!”
Will said he and the crew have enjoyed finding ways to meet the many technical challenges that are inherent in a production of this scope and size.
“It took a long time to just figure out how to do some of the elements,” he explained. “When it’s on a movie, you can kind of cut and paste and show the good stuff. But it took a tremendous amount of time to even just think about how to design and do some of this stuff.”
Tickets for “Singin’ in the Rain” are $10 for adults, $6 for students and seniors. Children under 5 will not be admitted to any evening performances; however, the Nov. 22 matinee performance at 2 p.m. is open to children of all ages.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). For more information, or to purchase advance tickets, contact the Performing Arts Office at (307) 382-1721, or go to www.wwcc.wy.edu/tix.