Carol Webster describes the upcoming production of the classic “Singin’ in the Rain” as “an explosion of talent.” She is the director of the Roanoke County Public Schools Center for Performing Arts at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT), whose students are now in rehearsal for the play scheduled for March 22-24 at Glenvar High School.
According to Webster, performers from throughout the valley are coming together to bring the iconic Hollywood musical alive, featuring songs like “Good Mornin’,” “Moses Supposes,” “Make ’em Laugh,” and dances such as “Broadway Rhythm,” and the unforgettable title song “Singin’ in the Rain.”
“The entire cast of 48 performers will remind you why we love this Gene Kelley, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Conner show so much— the innocence, the comedic and romantic songs, and the amazing tap dancing,” said Webster.
Performances will be on three evenings at Glenvar at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30. There is no charge for admission, but donations are much appreciated.
Leading the cast is Cave Spring junior Peyton Conner as Kathy Selden, William Byrd sophomores Nathan Patrick (as Don Lockwood) and David Scott (as Cosmo Brown), and Glenvar junior Emma Hartless as Lina Lamont.
Guest artist Patrick Kennerly also makes an appearance as the unforgettable diction coach and joins the cast just “singin’ and dancin’ in the rain,” says Webster.
William Byrd/BCAT students appearing in the production in addition to Patrick and Scott, include seniors Linus Rothrock and Laura Schneider, juniors Tela Espelage, Eva Pierce, and Tes Smith, sophomore Camryn Band, and freshmen Ellen Frary, Bayla Kessler, and Hanna Howell.
Webster directs the production with choreography by Kelli Manor and BCAT instructor Matt Bartley serving as vocal director. This team of three produced the acclaimed “Sister Act” and “Little Mermaid” in the past two seasons.
“Singin’ in the Rain,” is a romantic musical set in the late 1920s which tells the story of how the Hollywood industry made the transition from the Silent Era to the Talkies.
In the film, the legendary Gene Kelly plays silent screen star Don Lockwood, who along with his glamorous screen partner, Lina Lamont, must make their first sound picture. The problem is that Lamont has a shrill, screechy, glass-shattering-voice that will not make the move to Talkies well. She also can’t dance or act. Kathy Selden, played by Debbie Reynolds, is hired to dub in her own singing voice for lip-synching Lina with the help of Lockwood’s friend, Cosmo Brown, played by another Hollywood icon, Donald O’Connor. Lockwood falls for Selden in the course of the play.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is generally considered Hollywood’s greatest screen musical by many critics and the American Film Institute.
Former member of the Roanoke County School Board, William Byrd substitute teacher, and actress Bootie Chewning, who became a close friend of the late Debbie Reynolds, said, “I know Debbie is smiling down and thrilled to see ‘Singin’ in Rain’ being done here in Roanoke, which she loved.”
“Debbie used to tell me stories about making the movie– she was so young, and Gene Kelly was a taskmaster,” added Chewning. “She worked so hard she had blisters on her feet and they would bleed. She would hide behind the piano and cry; however, being the trouper that she was, she would pick herself up and push on. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ became a classic and Debbie will live on in it. I miss her so much and what an honor it was for me and my children, Angie and Greg, to say she was a friend of ours. She was truly ‘Unsinkable.’”
“Singin’ in the Rain is based on the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adoph Green with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. The stage version is based on the classic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film of 1952, by special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc.
For more information, contact Carol Lyn Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Burton Center for Arts and Technology at 857-5000.
Bartley has created a clip from the upcoming performance available at https://www.youtube.com/wa.