The American Film Institute voted the 1952 film the greatest movie musical ever made — and I don’t disagree.
Now, a new generation makes a splash as the nonprofit Arlington Players stage “Singin’ in the Rain” from March 25 through April 8 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre located at 125 S. Old Glebe Road.
Set in 1920s Hollywood, the story follows silent film stars Don Lockwood and Lena Lamont, who struggle with the industry’s sudden transition into talking pictures. Don hatches a plan with his old vaudeville pal Cosmo Brown and budding love interest Cathy Selden to turn their upcoming movie “The Dueling Cavalier” into a musical.
“I’m the kind of person who already sung and danced in the rain on a regular basis, so this felt like home to me,” actor Tim Lewis told WTOP. “It really is iconic. I’ve asked a lot of people in the last few months if they’ve seen the movie ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ Surprisingly, a lot of people have not seen it, but I haven’t met a single person who isn’t familiar with the image of Gene Kelly hanging on that lamp post in the rain with his suit on. It is just so classic.”
While Lewis fills Gene Kelly’s tap dancing shoes for the iconic title number, splashing in puddles and posing on a lamp post, Preston Meche tackles the zany, exhausting “Make ‘Em Laugh” made famous by Donald O’Connor.
“I’m not quite at the ‘American Ninja Warrior’ stage of flipping over the walls, but I do quite a bit that he did in the movie,” Meche said. “There is some riding of boards, some interactions with other cast members and high jinks ensue of course. It takes a lot out of me physically, but it is such a joyful number to perform. Even though I’m extremely out of breath by the time it’s over, it’s still really fun to do, knowing I’m having a good time with the audience.”
Filling in for Debbie Reynolds, Rachael Fine enjoys crooning “Good Morning” as a turning point in the show.
“It’s a thrill,” Fine said. “That song is more than just fun, it’s that pivotal moment where they have this idea. Don thinks his career is over and he’s done, then they just get an idea and they run with it and have a blast with it. It also establishes so many great relationships as well, where you really see Don and Cathy’s relationship step forward, their love relationship, and also getting to play with Preston and be buddy-buddy with him as Cosmo.”
Finally, Stacey Yvonne Clayton presents Lena as an antagonistic foil with nasally comic relief (“I can’t stain ’em!”).
“When I auditioned for this show, I didn’t anticipate being cast as Lena Lamont,” Clayton said. “When I got that phone call, I was laughing hysterically and also crying at the same time because it’s such a cool role. I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to bring her to life on stage. She’s such a hoot, she’s all over the place, she’s such a diva, she’s figuring out life now that talkies are here, she’s lost in love, she’s got a lot of different things going on.”
The Arlington Players have also had a lot going on in its nearly 75-year history in Northern Virginia.
“We are a completely volunteer-run organization, so everyone has separate lives outside of the theater and we all come together because it’s great fun and a great community-building opportunity,” Meche said. “With this group, the camaraderie that we have and the experience that we all have together, it really is a bonding experience.”
DISCLAIMER: WTOP’s Sandy Kozel is a member of the volunteer production for the nonprofit organization.
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