Way Way Off-Broadway Theatre presents iconic musical
By Christina Stock
Way Way Off-Broadway Theatre presents “Singin’ in the Rain.” The musical is rated PG and will be performed at the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Performing Arts Center.
The public has two weekends to see the iconic musical, from Nov. 2 to 4 and Nov. 9 to 11. with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and on Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
“Singin’ in the Rain” has been called the greatest movie musical of all time by most leading newspapers and reviewers since it was first shown in 1952.
The stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends — Betty Comden and Adolph Green — from their original award-winning screenplay, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm in ENMU-R’s Performing Arts Center.
Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make “Singin’ in the Rain” the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.
“Singin’ in the Rain” has all the makings of a Tinseltown tabloid headline: the starlet, the leading man and a love affair that could change lives and make or break careers.
The story goes back in time when actors in Hollywood had to suddenly adapt to a new technology: a viable sound system was invented and the movie-goers want to hear their stars.
In silent movies, Don Lockwood (played by Tony Souza) and Lina Lamont (played by Sandra Garnett) are a hot item but, behind the scenes, things aren’t always as they appear on the big screen.
Meanwhile, Lina’s squeaky voice might be the end of her career in talking pictures without the help of a talented young actress, Kathy Seldon (played by Devon Bullock) to do the talking and singing for her.
Kyle Bullock has been cast as Cosmo Brown, John Bitner as R.F. Simpson, Michele Massey as Dora Bailey, Jason Steward as Roscoe Dexter, Kendrick Davis as Rod, Clayton Garnett as production singer, Spenser Willden as male diction coach, Nancy Hein as Miss Dinsmore and Brandy How as Zelda Zanders.
Members of the ensemble supporting the show are Rebekah Bitner, Emily Boardman, Taryn Davis, Elexis De La Rosa, Sherri Hall-Crowhurst, Wynona Hicks, Jessica LaStella, Aimee Lueras, Brenda Morrow, Jorge Ortiz, Marisela Palomino, Kaitlyn Roe, Candience Runquist, Aleynnah Santos, Zelia Santos, Jeorganna Simoes, Ally Thompson and Samantha Thorsted.
This is the first show since WWOB’s “Mary Poppins” for Kyle Bullock who had taken a break from performing when he became a father. “I really enjoy being with my family here and he (his son) has actually been to most rehearsals. He fits right in,” he said.
Asked why he chose to try out for “Singin’ in the Rain,” Kyle Bullock said, “I wanted to do it with these people. Being with them each night has been a blast. The role has been fun because it’s nothing but funny and happy and joyful. You can have a bad day at work, but when you come here, that changes your mood and perspective. The biggest challenge is the athleticism of the show. It is nothing but lots and lots of long and difficult dance numbers, they are intricate and fun and you smile the whole time and have fun, but I had to get in a better shape for this.”
First question for Tony Souza is the obvious one. The title song is set to play in a downpour in the middle of a street. How is WWOB going to have rain on stage?
“We have been blessed by the support by Brian Cole and his team at Culligan Water as far as financial supporters, but this time we were able to — pun intended — tap into his knowledge of plumbing and moving water.” Tony Souza said. “That’s what they do when they plumb a house for soft water. It’s basically that system, but adapted for what we needed. We got several pumps; we’ve got reservoirs; lots of PVC pipes running; Brian has been instrumental on helping design that. I told him what I thought was the most efficient way to do it and he took it and ran with it.
My job was mostly retrieving the water, so I designed the system that recovers the water and sends it back. All the rain effects and the plumbing between the ground and the ceiling is him. It was serendipitous and a blessing that we got him on board on the technical side this time. This is promotion one-one-one — Culligan can literally make it rain,” Tony Souza said and laughed.
Tony Souza as Lockwood steps into one of the most iconic roles originally played by Hollywood legend Gene Kelly. “It is a very intentional and accurate word to use (for this role), it’s athlete. Gene Kelly was the greatest, certainly of his time,” he said. “I enjoy dancing, but it’s nothing that I see as a strength of mine. This role is all about the dancing, really. An actor can choose to make a part of the role his own, and be an original or can emulate and personify somebody who has already done it. I chose the latter.”
While Kyle Bullock had experience with tap dancing in “Mary Poppins,” he and Tony Souza agree that this musical is on an entire different level. Both credit choreographer and director Summer Souza for doing an excellent job teaching them the complicated dance acts.
“We are trying to pick one classic in the season and this is a classic,” Summer Souza said.”We knew we would have all of these elements going into it, but we didn’t realize to what extend until we got into it: the water effects, the movie scenes and we had to do the dancing. There is so much tap dancing in this show. Tap dancing is my love, it’s my favorite thing to teach and I took it as a challenge. Almost all of the dancers are non-tappers. They worked so hard. This whole cast just worked so hard.
“We got a great team and family, as we like to call it,” Summer Souza said. “We encourage everybody to bring their entire family to this. It’s a great way to introduce kids to theater, learn the classics, plus the tap dancing and rain effects, that alone is worth coming to see. Bring the whole family.”
WWOB’s musicals are very popular and the organizers recommend getting tickets as early as possible.
For more information, visit waywayoffbroadway.com or call 575-317-0157.