Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ in West Hartford for two weekends beginning March 8.
By Ronni Newton
Comedy and romance, song and dance, and even a bit of inclement weather come alive on the stage of Conard High School in West Hartford in the entertaining classic Singin’ in the Rain.
“This show just balances the comic and romance so well,” said Charlie Uthgenannt, who plays movie star Don Lockwood in the iconic show set in the late 1920s – an era when silent movies were transitioning to “talkies.”
Zoe Healey plays Lockwood’s on-screen love interest, the beautiful but squeaky-voiced and selfish movie star Lina Lamont – who is frustrated that the romance doesn’t extend beyond the highly-successful movies the couple stars in. She becomes consumed with jealousy when Lockwood falls in love with the talented young actress Kathy Selden (played by Gabby Urso).
When R.F. Simpson’s (played by Miles Brown) production company’s first attempt a talkie is headed for failure, Selden secretly becomes Lamont’s voice double to save the film. What ensues won’t be a secret – but is definitely a delight to watch unfold.
Uthgenannt said that the character of Lockwood is just such a fun role to play. “I have fun singing under the rain every night,” he said. With the rain, and the dancing, the play is such a great spectacle, he said.
Healey also said that Singin’ in the Rain is a fun show, a classic featuring many well known toe-tapping numbers including “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “You Are My Lucky Star,” and of course “Singin’ In The Rain.” She said saw the movie version of Singin’ in the Rain last spring when she learned Conard would be performing it, but was careful not to let herself be influenced by the movie in portraying her version of Lamont who has such a “big” presence on stage.
The technical aspects of producing the show also make it interesting and challenging as well, Healey said.
Several clips of silent movies, and an early “talkie,” are shown during the performance, and those actually star the Conard actors as well. Healey said they filmed the movies in studio space at Kingswood Oxford.
The show includes much more dancing than most Conard musicals – a challenge for many cast members who didn’t previously have a strong dance background. While Healey has some dance experience, her role is one of the few that doesn’t dance much.
“It was really challenging to learn,” particularly the tap dancing, said Maddie Gallinoto, who plays the sassy Zelda Zanders, another silent film actress and friend of Lamont’s. She said that dance rehearsals have been one of her favorite parts of being in the show.
Uthgenannt has studied tap, but neither Urso, nor Matt Vitelli, who plays Lockwood’s sidekick Cosmo Brown, had tap danced before being cast in this show.
“I’ve never tapped before,” said Vitelli, who worked very hard and looks like a pro on the stage. And like the other actors, he also said that his character is so much fun to play.
“The dancing is hard, but an amazing challenge,” said Declan Smith, who is in the ensemble. “Being in the ensemble is a great way to learn new dance numbers.”
Kieran Davis, who plays silent film director Roscoe Davis, enjoyed getting into his character, figuring out the appropriate personality for the time period and the nature of his relationship with the other characters.
It seems to happen seamlessly, but Davis noted that there are so many costume changes in the show – many of which happen very quickly and require a team of students and parents backstage to assist the actors. Healey said she even wears two different wigs as Lamont.
And, it actually rains on stage.
Gallinoto said that a second stage surface was constructed, with a pitch so that the “rain,” which comes from tanks below the stage and is pumped up to the rafters, will flow back down into gutters where it is then recycled for re-use. There’s even an indentation built into the stage to create a puddle.
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For those familiar with the movie, Conard’s version of Singin’ in the Rain includes all of the favorite moments and more. Choreographer Renee Sutherland even used some of the exact same steps from the movie, Smith said.
It’s a larger-than-life, splashy (pun intended) show that is appropriate for and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. “Fun” is the word that all of the actors used to describe their roles, and the overall show.
The full cast list can be found below.
Performance dates and times for Singin’ in the Rain are:
- Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m.
- Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m.
- Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 16 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and children. Advance purchase online at www.conardhighschoolmusical.com is recommended to ensure availability. If any tickets remain they will be sold at the door. There are a limited number of wheelchair accessible seats.
All performances will be held in the Conard High School auditorium, 110 Beechwood Rd., West Hartford, CT.
Any questions can be directed to Liz Grabber at [email protected].
You can also follow Conard High School Musical Productions on Facebook and Instagram (@conardhighschoolmusical).
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