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Clever and funny with memorable songs and dances, the Wellesley Middle School production of “Singin’ in the Rain” was an all-around crowd pleaser that drew lots of laughs, and even inspired a few in the audience to sing along to the familiar songs. “It made me want to do theater when I grow up, and in middle school, too!” said 9-year-old Molly Collard of Wellesley, who saw the show twice during its weekend run November 21-23. “Everyone was so funny. I didn’t want to get up it was so good.”
The romantic-comedy-musical was the first production of the year for WMS drama, and perhaps an unusual choice. The 1952 movie starred Gene Kelly and featured many advanced dance scenes and fast-paced songs. In fact, one of the hits of the production was the tongue-twisting song “Moses Supposes,” in which the actors are learning to speak clearly for their first “talking” movie.
“The singing and dancing and being funny was my favorite part,” said Eoghan Kelley, 14, who played best friend Cosmo, whose “Make ʼEm Laugh” was another crowd favorite. “I’m a comedic guy and it’s easy for me to convey that through singing and dancing.”
Emily Prus, who played Kathy, the role memorably played by Debbie Reynolds in the 1952 film, acknowledged she had “big shoes to fill.” Still, she says the complicated “Good Morning” was her favorite. “The dance was super stressful, and it took a long time for us to really master it,” 14-year-old Emily said. “It’s such a fun, upbeat song. It really lifts everybody’s spirits.”
The casting team hit the jackpot with 13-year-old Libertad Vaughn, who played Lina, a silent-film star who has a terrible, piercing voice that repeatedly had the audience laughing out loud. Libertad said she got the inspiration for her screeching performance from her pet parrot.
“I don’t like playing the heroine. I like playing the comic relief,” said Libertad, who sings in the school chorus but had never participated in a theater production before. “The comic relief or the villain have more freedom to do what they want.”
For Jordan St. Louis, 14, the role of leading man Don Lockwood was really about being the “center of it … the one everyone depended on.” At first, Jordan said he was nervous because “if I messed up it would affect everyone.” But he adjusted. “In real life, I would be Cosmo. I am the type of person to crack jokes, to be the funny one of the group,” Jordan said.
In addition to having an incredibly talented cast, the show benefited from the collaborative efforts of director Katie Speed, producer Leah Fine, choreographer Julia Deter, music director Dan Moore, costume designer Christine Carpenter, lighting designer Brian Boruta, sound designer and stage crew supervisor Samantha Myers and set designer Ben Rush.
Upcoming WMS drama productions include “Fame Jr.” for seventh and eighth graders (performances in late March), as well as the Sixth Grade Cabaret in May.