'Singin' in the Rain' opens tonight | November 7, 2014 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - November 7, 2014

'Singin' in the Rain' opens tonight

Live production of light-hearted Hollywood classic

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

What could be better during a drought than "Singin' in the Rain"?

Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre (PCRT) kicks off its fifth season at the Firehouse Arts Center tonight with the Hollywood classic. The audience will be familiar with the 1952 movie starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, said PCRT director David Judson, so this provided a challenge -- as did producing a play with an iconic rain scene when water is being rationed.

"This had me scratching my head as director," Judson said. "What can we do creatively to do this scene without using water?"

The solution was high-definition projection, which is used a lot on Broadway these days and was also effective in the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Not only will the audience "see" rain, Judson said, but they will get a little colder in the chilly night air.

"Singin' in the Rain" takes place in 1920s Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies. Judson said that a recent trip with his family to Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and the Great Movie Ride at Disney World inspired him.

"I felt immersed in that time frame, 1927-28," he said, "and this musical centers inside that time period."

The romantic comedy involves a movie studio scrambling to salvage the career of its silent picture star, Lina Lamont, who turns out to have a chipmunk voice. The leading man, Don Lockwood, ends up falling for the aspiring ingenue who dubs the film, Kathy Seldon. Originally a movie, "Singin' in the Rain" opened on Broadway in 1985.

"We took a creative, fresh look at it, but we stay true to the script," Judson said last week. "Our typical work day is seven hours with four-and-a-half hours devoted to dance. Our professional actors arrive at 3:30 and we are done at 11."

Choreographer Staci Arriaga also did the show at Diablo Theatre Company in 2013 so she knows what worked and what didn't, he added.

This production includes the projection of silent movies.

"Two months ago we had to do live action film shooting," Judson said. "This is such an enormously fun project. It involves everything I've ever studied, theater arts to the nth degree."

Judson, one of the founders of Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre and co-artistic director, attended a Broadway Teachers Workshop this summer, going to five shows and meeting with the artistic staffs afterward.

"All the top people there led workshops for us, down to the designer level," Judson said. This included the special effects being created by high definition projectors.

But technology does not overpower the show, Judson said.

"The costumes are amazing, the sets are great. And we have seven professional musicians, perfect musicians for that show, and a lot of tap dancing," he noted. "We have an amazing professional cast that will dazzle the audiences."

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