Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
I kept waiting to publish this in the hopes that the costume designer, Brandon McWilliams, would email me back with answers to my interview questions, but alas, he never did. So I guess I'll just have to go with what I have.
I first saw Singing in the Rain as a child with my mom. My mom was 3 when it was released originally and saw it with her mom. It was a favorite of ours and we loved Debbie Reynolds in it. We were big musical theatre fans anyway so we watched everything that Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor were ever in. We even watched all of the Tammy movies, even though Debbie Reynolds was only in the first one. When I was in high school, the touring company came through Austin and mom got us tickets. By that time I had been in ballet, tap, and jazz for years as well as gymnastics. I really wanted to be able to do everything that Donald O'Connor could do in that film. So I was super excited to be able to see these performers do those dances live in person. The thing I remember being the most impressed with was that I got to see it rain onstage! It was amazing. I remember being disappointed that the lead actors were not the original actors, but once I thought about it I realized that they'd be way too old and I forgave them for not recreating their roles onstage for me personally thirty years later. I am sure that I pointed out every single difference between that show and the movie to my mom on the car ride back home. And here I am thirty odd years later, not tapping my way across the stage like Donald O'Connor, but making the clothes other Donald wannabees get to wear.
My husband is also a huge fan of this movie and Gene Kelly in particular. He owns the movie on DVD and watches it whenever he gets depressed. he knows all the songs and he secretly wishes that he could dance like Gene Kelly even though he's a street-smart drummer in a rock and roll band. He'd lose tons of punk-rock points if any of his fans knew this. So when we found out that Zach Scott was doing this show on his birthday no less, I knew I had to get us tickets. The big surprise was that my former student, Brandon McWilliams, had designed the costumes.
(Insert answers to interview questions here)
My take on the show is that it's tough to produce a show that's as well known as this one. Everyone has seen it and expects to see what they were shown in the movie. The first big difference was that Zach Scott's cast was very diverse. An actress of color played Kathy Selden, Sasha Hutchings. She had been in Hamilton earlier and was phenomenal in this show. And she wasn't the only actor of color in the show. In fact there were eight non-white cast members out of a total of 22. The cast was diverse in more than just ethnicity. It's a show about Hollywood in its glamour days and the last production I saw of it, not only was the cast all white, they were also all young and beautiful. This cast had actors of all shapes, sizes, and ages, who looked just like real people rather than Hollywood stereotypes. That choice was really refreshing to see.
Yes, it rained on stage and Don Lockwood, played by Luke Hawkins, got very soaking wet while dancing. My husband was sad that Cosmo Brown, played by Blake Spellacy, didn't run up a wall and turn a flip during "Make 'em Laugh!" He did hang off a board, though as well as do the bit with the dummy on the couch. Recreating the dreadful version of the film, "The Dueling Cavalier" was ridiculously funny and looked like it was just as fun to shoot.
As to the costumes specifically, I really liked the color palette and the use of patterns and textures with the men's sweaters and vests. I thought that the "All I Do is Dream of You" costumes were a little risque for that scene. If it had been me, I would have switched them for the later costumes worn during the "Beautiful Girls" number. But those are only minor criticisms and only reflect my personal taste. I loved the plaid suits the boys wear in the first flashback scene to their vaudeville career as well as the Erte inspired fashions from the middle section of "Beautiful Girls".
My husband felt "all the feels" and got a little teary eyed with joy during the performance. It really was an inspiring romp of tap dancing and really fast costume changes. I hope you got a chance to see it since it closed the very next weekend.
Photos by Kirk Tuck