Not so much a musical as it is a dance-off and not so much a play as it is a technical marvel, Papillion-La Vista South High School’s drama department will bring to the Titan Theatre this week the American classic “Singin’ in the Rain.”
And they most certainly are making it rain.
Apart from the elaborate choreography and the dancing instruction for many of the actors, the show’s technical crew has also pulled off a major feat in replicating rain for one scene and, perhaps more importantly, finding somewhere for that water to go.
“It does pose a little bit of a challenge,” said Brady Vigness, a senior cast in the lead role of Don Lockwood and who is also serving on the tech crew tasked with making sure Titan Theatre stays dry. “Getting the rain to fall is easy. But the set designed for this specific scene is pretty cool in how it collects the rainwater.”
Vigness said Marissa Todd, another PLS senior who is heading up the crew, devised three platforms — two measuring 4 feet by 8 feet and a third, 4-by-10 — upon which the three actors in the scene could dance. The platforms are outfitted with a small opening at the front, like a gutter.
Under each platform is a small reservoir where the water can be collected. The platforms are also tilted ever so slightly at 2 degrees so the rain will run into the gutter.
“It’s a brand new one for me, dancing in the rain,” said Vigness, who learned his tap in the Papillion-La Vista Community Theatre’s 2011 production of “The Music Man.” “I’m having the time of my life, but I’m also making sure I don’t slip and fall.”
Most of the rest of the cast is doing likewise, wet or dry.
Senior Abby Feden, in the role of Lina Lamont, said she got a crash course in dance from the show’s choreographer, the celebrated Deb Massey.
“She does such a good job,” Feden said. “I’m definitely getting more confident as we go along. It’s fun, if challenging. I’m looking at it as a good thing.”
“Singin’ in the Rain” as a stage musical is a relatively recent phenomenon. The show is based on the original 1952 film which was brought to Broadway in the early 1980s and is undergoing a revival in New York and London.
The play centers on the story of Don, a silent film star at the advent of talking pictures. Don’s studio has also pushed him into a concocted romance with his co-star, Lina. By chance, he encounters a chorus girl ingenue in Kathy Selden (played by Emily Tencer) and the two eventually strike up a partnership to bring Don into the new wave of movies and launch Kathy’s career, all while falling in love.
Feden and Vigness both said they’ve looked to the movie, which stars Jean Hagen as Lina and Gene Kelly as Don, for guidance.
“I absolutely love that movie,” Feden said. “I’m looking to the film for some guidance to get Lina’s voice right. I think a lot of us are doing that for our roles. ‘Broadway Rhythm’ is one of my favorite songs. It’s such a classic and it’s been so much fun to do this musical.”
Director Jeff Nienhueser said his cast has come along nicely in five weeks’ worth of tap lessons and the show’s big finale is a moment of great anticipation.
“When you talk about movies being brought to the stage, it doesn’t always translate,” Nienhueser said. “But this has all the classic elements and we’re bringing all of that along. Great tappers, a big finale with almost the entire cast and amazing choreography. It’s going to be an event.”
“Singin’ in the Rain” opens Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Performances will also be held on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens and $4 for children. Tickets will be sold at Titan Town, at the door or by calling 402-829-4605.