'Singin’ in the Rain' at Lees-McRae
Since 1985, the summer theater season at Lees-McRae College has delighted guests with mainstream performances that have kept lovers of the stage returning annually.
And for years, the directors and seasoned actors have dreamt of performing one of their personal favorites — “Singin’ in the Rain.”
“I always wanted to do it,” artistic director Janet Speer said. “It’s one of my favorite musicals, but we sort of avoided because of technical issues (the rain scene).”
But with advances in stage technologies, as well as with the engineering of the sound stage by David Carter, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre will present the musical based on the classic film, beginning Aug. 4 with various show times.
The story is focused on a pivotal era in the film industry, when movies were in the process of transforming from silent films to “talkies,” Speer said.
The diva, Lina Lamont (played by Nicole Wright), whose raspy voice makes for a rough transition to the audible movies, is a self-described prima donna, who is in love with leading man Don Lockwood (played by Erik Joshua Clack).
The feeling, however, isn’t mutual, as Don is instead in love with the fairer — and considerably sweeter — Kathy Seldan (played by Devon Frieder), although the tabloids and magazines say otherwise.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is the third and final play of the LMC Summer Theatre season, which featured “Chicago” and “The 39 Steps” earlier this summer.
“The season has gone really well,” Speer said. “Our numbers are up. We are really anticipating ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ to go really well.”
Altogether, the cast and company for the play includes 60 people.
“We have a very cooperative cast, and that is difficult with so many people,” Speer said. “It’s really an honor to get to work with these folks.”
The key to each season’s success is resourcefulness, she said.
“We’ve been going since 1985, and we always operate in our means, and we’ve been really successful because we’ve been so careful,” Speer said. “What amazes people, who come from all over the world, is they all seem to think we have an element that is remarkable. Part of that is our heart. We put a lot into the shows. They are amazed a small college can do such professional work with such a small stage.”
There is also an element of mystique.
“We make it magical,” Speer said, “from how we move our scenery to our actors. We have lots of loyal people who come year after year to see our wonderful work.”
Despite the small budget, the college manages to land a star-studded cast with several accolades to its name. “People expect much more out of us because we grow and get better and better,” Speer said.
The amount of dedication by the theater department is also apparent in its attention to detail and script selection.
“We have an advisory board, and we listen to what people want to see,” Speer said. “We are pretty mainstream. We are also careful to make sure we appeal to a large audience. We agonize over the selection of those pieces. We make sure it is something the audience wants to see. We work on that very hard.”
Audiences can see for themselves when “Singin’ in the Rain” comes to LMC’s Hayes Auditorium, with performances set for Aug. 5, 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 4, 8 and 10 at 2 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.lmst.lmc.edu or at the Hayes Auditorium box office in downtown Banner Elk.
For more information on Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, call (828) 898-8709. For more information on Lees-McRae College, visit http://www.lmc.edu.