'Singin' in the Rain' takes Centre stage

The 1952 film, "Singin’ in the Rain" took audiences to an imaginary studio, Monumental Pictures, where the end of the silent film era loomed overhead. Imitating real life, two mega silent film stars are about to have their lives changed when "The Jazz Singer" is released, changing the world of entertainment forever. "Singin’ in the Rain" has been adapted for the live stage and the Glendale Centre Theatre has taken on the task of producing this well-known story.

"It was very difficult," theater owner Tim Dietlein said of the many challenges in launching the production. "We are a live theater, but several times we have to go to a movie."

The play moves from live performance to film as the story unfolds.

At the story’s foundation is the romance between famous silent film star Don Lockwood, portrayed by Bryan Chesters, and up-and-coming actress Kathy Selden, portrayed by Emily Coddington. But it is also about the romance the public has with those on the silver screen. Lina Lamont, (Aimee Guichard) is the other half of Lamont and Lockwood, the silent film "it" couple. The public, and Lamont, considers them a loving pair but in reality, Lockwood has less than romantic ideas about his co-star. Lamont confuses public relations love with real love and does not like it when Selden dances and sings her way into Lockwood’s life.

Transferring from film to live stage was difficult, especially with the signature song, "Singin’ in the Rain," which required it to rain in the theater.

Dietlein said that when they decided on doing the play, the crew knew this would be the main concern.

"We interviewed other theaters around the country that had done the show," he said.

After speaking with several theaters, Dietlein and his crew began engineering a method that would allow it to rain indoors.

The biggest challenge was the venue itself. The stage did not have any type of drainage system. "We are theater in the round with a self contained pit," Dietlein explained.

The crew had to build a tank that collected the rain water and could be drained in between acts. Despite the difficult engineering challenge, the result was worth it.

"It is a big, ‘Oh, wow’ [factor] when the lights come up and it begins to rain," Dietlein said. "So many people have said [that] after seeing the play, they didn’t think we could do it."

He said the rain, the film and the story have hit a chord with his audience.

"It is a charming story and people are coming back many times to see the performance," he said.

Dietlein added that most of his local audience comes from what he calls the "foothill corridor," from La Cañada to Sunland. He added that it is this core audience that has been impressed and very supportive of the production.

"We just feel very lucky," he said.

The play also stars Mark Hatfield as Cosmo Brown. It is directed and choreographed by Mark Knowles with musical direction by Steven Applegate.

Performances are on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. with matinee performances on Saturdays at 3 p.m. The play runs through July 12. Glendale Centre Theatre is located at 324 N. Orange St., Glendale. Tickets are $22.50 to $25.50; group rates of 25 or more are available. For information, call (818) 244-8481, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or visit the website at www.glendalecentretheatre.com.

The theater’s next production will be "Brigadoon" from July 16 to August 30.

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