STEVENSVILLE — Children’s Music Workshop’s weekend production of “Singin’ in the Rain Jr.” will be a whole lot of fun, the cast and crew say.
“It’s very old-Broadway, classic,” choreographer Kelsey Trux said before a recent rehearsal. “A lot of pizzazz and silly things. The whole thing is very campy and exciting. You’re always laughing and enjoying the movement. It’s very upbeat, and the dances are really fun.”
The classic movie musical, which features 66 Southwest Michigan children, has been adapted for kids by shortening some of the songs and making them more friendly for younger voices, according to director Ashley Watt.
“Some of the jokes go over their heads, but it’ll be great for the older audience members to come in and think, ‘That’s really funny,’” she said.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is about Don Lockwood, a popular silent film actor in the 1920s, his best friend Cosmo Brown, who helps him write the music, and Lina Lamont, an actress who no one likes very much.
“Basically it’s about Don coming to terms with the fact that they’re starting to make talking pictures, and they’ve never really done that before,” Watt said. “He meets a young starlet, Kathy Selden, and she kind of shakes him up by saying people who do silent movies are really just cheesy, overacting-types of people. He meets her again later after the talking pictures start, and they end up falling in love and making a musical movie.”
Watt and Trux, now in their mid-20s, grew up together in CMW productions.
“We just started out in the chorus, and I realized it was something I was passionate about,” Watt said. “I really loved singing, so I started to work on myself and get leads. It really helped my confidence and social skills a lot. I made so many friends.”
Trux said that’s the thing about CMW productions, the cast becomes a family.
“It’s fulfilling and exciting to watch (the children) learn and be excited about learning,” she said. “I’m probably going to end up crying watching them all on stage just because I’m close to these kids now. They’re part of my life, and I’m very very grateful for this opportunity.”
Watt said it hasn’t been difficult directing because everyone is so excited about doing the show.
“We’ve kind of come together as a family, and it’s been super fun at every rehearsal,” she said. “Everybody just really loves doing these numbers, so you can just really tell that they want to put their heart into it and give everybody a really good show.”
Sam Moyle, who plays Kathy Selden, said it’s interesting because a lot of people her age don’t know about “Singin’ in the Rain.” She’s a freshman at Lakeshore High School.
“So when I’d bring it up with somebody, they’d be like, ‘Who are you again?’” she said. “But it’s a good show. I think the characters are kind of like, at some points, stoic, but it’s just to portray the story. Not that it isn’t challenging.”
Moyle started performing in CMW shows when she was 9.
“I continued doing it because it helped push me out of my comfort zone and what I was comfortable with,” she said. “I really enjoy doing it. I was not expecting this role at all.”
Someone else not expecting their role was Will Turner, who plays Cosmo Brown.
“I auditioned because I love me some ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’” he said. “I’m happy for myself and happy with the directors because they took a chance on me.”
Turner, a sophomore at Lakeshore High School, said Cosmo is the comedic relief in the show.
“He does all of these funny things, but he actually does care about the people in his life,” he said. “And he totally tries to hook Don and Kathy up all the time, like by scooting off the stage in a goofy manner. And though I love Megan a lot, Cosmo doesn’t like Lina one bit.”
Megan Klein, who plays Lina Lamont, said she loves being the character all the other characters hate.
“I always get that kind of role,” she said. “Lina is a really obnoxious, gross, petty character. I love it so much, and that’s why I auditioned, because I thought she’d be such a fun character to play, and she is.”
Klein, now a junior at Bridgman High School, said she became involved in CMW at the beginning of middle school.
Landon Mitchell, who plays Don Lockwood, has been with CMW for about two years. He’s homeschooled and in eighth grade.
“I’m having a lot of fun playing Don,” he said. “It’s fun to push myself with the dancing, singing and all that.”
The kids all enjoy different parts of the show, but they really love the big numbers.
“Everyone in the cast is in them, and it’s fun to see everyone all there on stage at one time,” Klein said.
Moyle, Watt and Trux said they love the song “All I Do is Dream of You,” which is Kathy’s number with all the featured dancers.
“I get to dance in front of a large group of people,” Moyle said. “It felt very odd at first because I don’t take dance lessons or anything, but it turned out to be very enjoyable and fun.”
Watt said it’s been amazing working with the kids.
“I absolutely love seeing the joy in their faces when they learn a new dance or when they come up with something funny or silly to do,” she said. “I love the creative process. I get to let out my creativity, they get to let theirs out and we get to collaborate on it. It’s so much fun just working with them and having a safe place for them to be themselves.”
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