The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina Presents:Singin' in the Rain
Author: Laura Jacobi
This holiday season, give that special person in your life the gift of classic, American entertainment—a ticket to join you at Singin’ in the Rain. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina will bring this iconic musical to life Dec. 3-28.
Set in glamorous 1920s Hollywood, this story focuses on two silent movie stars in their transition to the early days of “talkies.” Don Lockwood and Lina Lamount are the toast of Hollywood. However, Lina has been cursed with a terrible voice and problems arise when she and Don must star in their first movie with sound! Secretly, Don and the studio executives arrange to have a beautiful, up-and-coming actress, Kathy, do a voiceover for Lina. Kathy, later in the story, becomes Don’s love interest. Ambition, comedy and romance fuel the fire for this delightful musical! Singin’ in the Rain captured two Tony Awards when it was on Broadway and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.
This romantic comedy is most lovingly remembered in the form of the 1952 movie starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Kelly played the lead role of the dashing Lockwood. According to the Arts Center’s cast, there is something about that story that is just as human and entertaining today as it has been for the past 60 years. Kelly’s toes tapping in the rain is more than a scene of a movie; it’s like a fond memory from days past—close your eyes and it’s always there when you need it.
The show’s director, Casey Colgan, says he’s thrilled to present this story to the Hilton Head Island audience. Colgan is no stranger to the Arts Center as he starred in its very first production, as Bobby Child, in Crazy for You, 25 years ago. Island audiences have seen him perform the role of Edna in Hairspray; Carmen Ghia in The Producers; Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast; and Rum Tum Tugger in Cats. He’s directed several productions at the Arts Center including 42nd Street; Anything Goes; Dreamgirls; Hairspray; Aida; and West Side Story, among many others.
Colgan says there’s just something about classics such as Singin’ in the Rain or The Wizard of Oz. “People want to revisit these stories like they’re seeing them for the first time,” he said. “There are so many musical classics that every kid needs to see. Singin’ in the Rain is one of them.”
Although Colgan said it is important to keep some of the timeless and iconic scenes, songs and dance moves the same as people remember, it is also vital to keep the action fresh so it’s relatable today.
“The singing and dancing is a huge part of this memorable musical, and our choreographer Jill Gorrie and musical director Jonathan Marro do an amazing job at making the musical numbers pop. We’re even providing the rain,” Colgan said. “But the audience will also be intrigued by the beautiful love story that develops.”
Alexa DeBarr (Cyd) and Alex Puette (Don Lockwood)
SPOILER ALERT: According to Colgan, one of the biggest changes from the screen to the stage version of Singin’ in the Rain is that Gene Kelly won’t be playing Don Lockwood. Instead, audiences will be captivated by the performance of Alex Puette, “a Don Lockwood for a new generation.” Puette has performed in Broadway national tours of Young Frankenstein and Legally Blonde. He’s also been seen in 42nd Street and West Side Story.
Puette said he grew up watching Singin’ in the Rain as his go-to “sick movie”—that movie you always put on when you’re at home sick because you wish to get lost in the story and forget how yucky you feel.
“I was such a fan of this movie that I was excited to get to know Don Lockwood a little better,” Puette said. “No one should try to be Gene Kelly, so I’m excited to bring my own life experiences into the character.” With trembling in his voice, Puette added, “I feel so at home in this role and in this show. This is what I was meant to do.”
Puette understands some of the struggles the character of Don faces in his career. Don and Lina were riding high as the biggest stars in silent movies. Then, come the “talkies” and this girl-next-door named Kathy, and it turns Don’s world upside down. Through this rollercoaster of emotions and circumstances, Don discovers that “there’s more to life than a career,” Puette said. “He realizes that love and life are what matter.”
Lockwood’s love interest, Kathy, is played by Sarah Claire Smith. Most girls growing up dream of their movie-star crush picking them out of a crowd and living happily ever after together. Smith gets to relive those star-struck childhood fantasies on stage.
Smith says the character of Kathy is very familiar to her because she’s sassy and ambitious. Playing Kathy “is like putting on my own skin,” she said. “It’s comfortable, and the chemistry is natural.”
Local audiences might remember Smith from her performances in the Arts Center’s My Fair Lady and Anything Goes. But, she says, it’s this show that means the most. Smith vividly remembers Singin’ in the Rain as her first-ever movie-watching experience. She would watch the film in her grandmother’s living room as they danced around singing along with the stars to the legendary musical. She’s thrilled that her grandmother, Barbara Claire Smith, will be coming from Winter Haven, Florida to see the show.
Smith says her goal is to bring the character of Kathy to life, because she thinks there’s a part of Kathy in every girl. She wants to create a palpable connection between the story and the audience.
“With theater, it’s alive,” Smith said. “There’s a more intense relationship you have with the actors when you watch theater live you simply can’t have with a movie.”
Oakley Boycott, who portrays the gorgeous Lina Lamount, says there’s always a little bit of her own personality in every role she plays.
When the audience sees Boycott on stage, they will see the epitome of a glamorous movie star of the 1920s, Colgan said. She’s tall, thin and looks amazing in a flapper dress. But, most of all, she’s a great actress. Boycott has appeared in a variety of musicals, comedies and workshops throughout her career.
Boycott understands Lina because this character is loved by audiences and Hollywood executives alike—until she opens her mouth. Then, she’s judged for this one flaw: her grating voice. Everyone has something about themselves they wish they could change, Boycott said.
Even though the story is set in the ’20s, the internal struggles the three main characters face are still relevant today. “It transcends time,” Boycott said. “For kids, it’s a great introduction to musical theater.”
The costumes and pure entertainment level the show possesses will delight audience members of every age, according to Smith. All the actors agree that older theatre goers can look forward to a homecoming of sorts when they take their seats at the Arts Center. Folks are invited to take a delightful stroll down memory lane as they relive the first time they ever saw Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain.
“Now is the best time to see it, even if you’ve never seen the movie,” Puette said. “The themes are universal.”
Shows will begin at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays. Preview performances are $47 for adults and $33 for children 4-15; Regular tickets are $57 for adults and $39 for children. Purchase tickets by calling (843) 686-3945 or visiting artshhi.com.