What A Glorious Feeling! The Story of “Singin’ in the Rain”
Winter Park Playhouse
By Jay Berkow
Music arranged by Chad Dickerson
Original Choreography by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Music Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Charles Logan and Adam Biner
Winter Park FL
As Winter Park Play House approaches its 18th birthday and it’s first Visa card, it takes a risk on a delightful story based on adultery, foul language and a brutal behind the scenes look at the making of possibly the greatest MGM movie musical ever paid for. Kelly (Logan) has a brilliant idea for a musical but suffers from pneumonia he refuses to treat. Time is short, the budget is wobbly, and he argues with writing pal Stan Donen (Biner) over creative control, money and who gets top billing. The opening act dance numbers are dazzling, and when Jeanne Coyne (Tay Anderson) joins the party, the stakes rise even higher. She been married or at least slept with every guy on set, and these were not happy, running through a field of flowers romances. Periodically Art Freed (Todd Alan Long) appears to bring bad news and push the story forward. Their film needs a fresh face to make it work, and that falls to the unknown novice Debbie Reynolds (Jenifer Newberry.) Debbie just started dancing this week, and her feet hurt as much as her ego. Chris Leavy sits on stage, pounding out tunes on demand, and when he’s in the way, Kelly dismisses him. When his services are required, he returns munching on a donut. A factotum, but an essential one.
While crossed marriages and on-stage adultery go back so far it made the Catholics banish theater for a millennium, WPPH always leant on the side of suggestion over actual unrepentant confession. But tonight, it’s open season, and they may only be steps away from producing “Virginia Woolf,” assuming some gets the rights and adds a chorus. Its more than refreshing and they are taking a noticeable. The crowd I was in seemed to take the gutsy sex talk with good grace and plenty of laughter, and I was excited by the performance. This was a show that went way farther than I expected. The innerworkings of movie making always give good fodder for drama and pathos, but here we have a show that feels alive with real people fighting for what they believe in; whether its sex, money or support from a distant and uncaring management. Happy birthday, WPPH, and maybe we can go out and get a drink one night soon.