Auditions were held at the end of May, a cast of just more than 20 kids was selected, and here they are, with barely a month of rehearsals behind them, ready to pull back the curtain for Opening Night on the LSC stage. The 2022 Youth Summer Theater production has a veteran cast of performers guiding the kids with David Marcus producing, Stephanie Mackris directing, and Marjory Clegg choreographing the stage adaptation of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer classic film.
“We put this show together in one month,” said Mackris. “It’s just over one hour because it’s the junior show. The numbers are about a minute and a half long; a little less than the movie so it has the right stamina for most kids.”
Timing may be a little short of the movie, but this stage production is not short on entertainment. It will “definitely” leave the audience wanting more says Mackris. At a rehearsal with just over a week before opening night, the cast knew their lines and ran smoothly through scenes. Focused effort by everyone involved has made the difference in the short time they’ve had to prepare.
“Every time I show up, Marjory is already here,” Mackris said. “Oh my gosh Dave Marcus, shirts are already here. I mean they are all working. It’s not just the director putting in crazy hours.”
Mackris, usually on stage performing, is taking a step back as director to truly appreciate the effort of all who surround her to work with the kids to produce the summer show.
“Everybody is working really hard and doing a really good job,” she said. “It’s a present. This is a gift to the kids to give so much of your summer for this production and it’s a really nice set, everything is beautiful. They’ve done a really good job.”
There have been challenges. They have only three boys in the cast playing Don Lockwood, Cosmo Brown and Dexter. They had to cast girls in roles that were played by males in the original movie version.
“None of the girls are playing boys, but the producer Simpson in this show is a sophisticated ahead of the times woman,” said Mackris. “You work with what you have.”
It worked out well for Mackris’ son Sam Mackris who landed his dream role of Cosmo Brown. Beside his penchant for acting, Sam is an accomplished gymnast. It’s a natural for the character of Cosmo Brown and Mackris thought it might be a good fit for Sam with flips. Without giving too much away for the audience, keep your eyes open for some pretty amazing moves in the “Make Em Laugh” number.
“It’s iconic,” Mackris said. “You want to see that. Usually you don’t have the people who can do it. It’s fun.”
So much fun, that when Sam executed the number perfectly during rehearsal, Mackris paused this backstage interview to watch and applaud. There is no doubt the audience will be brought to their feet to applaud when it happens during the show. You know the show, watch for the same fun stuff performed by these children. You won’t think of this as a kids show. The audience will enjoy a triple treat with the choreography highlighting more than just dancing talent.
“Our lead, Lauren Fritzsche, is a dancer dancer. She is really talented,” said Mackris. “So you get to see talent showcased for sure. There are others along with her and then you have athletic talent displayed with athletic people like Sam doing flips and that sort of thing. Then you get the fun of this is community theater and they all learned how to tap dance.”
Marjory Clegg is a pillar of the Loveland Stage Company as choreographer for too many shows to list – not to mention holding dance classes on weekends regularly over the years. No words can describe her contribution or her passion for theater music and dance. She exudes joy when talking about working with the kids. Oh, and she never stops moving and dancing along with them as they rehearse.
“These kids from ages 12-18 put their heart and soul into this,” said Clegg. “The big number is the last number. It is just so interesting to see these kids; how much they’ve put their heart and soul in it. They want to be good and they are good. The kids are great. I’m so happy I got to work with these kids.”
And the kids are equally happy to be working with Marjory Clegg. Celia Dartnall, from Loveland High School, is one of the cast. She plays the role of Lena Lamont who was a star in silent films, but “Singin’ in the Rain” is about the arrival of talking pictures (talkies) and well, let’s just say her voice is made for silent films. That is not the case for Celia Dartnall who has the talent to pull off the annoying squeaky voice of her character. It has been a challenge.
“It’s definitely been a lot being one of the leads,” said Dartnall. “A good chunk of the lines toward the end are Lena’s. It’s a lot to memorize and a lot to link with your actions on stage. But the directors have made it really easy. It’s been great.”
She says the directors have provided a lot of resources for the cast to practice. What’s her favorite part?
“I get pied in the face,” Dartnall said. “That’s probably my favorite part. I do get pied in the face and I get to fall. I have some stunts.”
Dartnall says the cast has been a lot of fun. She’s from Loveland, but a lot of the cast go to different schools or attend all boys, or all girls’ schools that don’t have a mixed theater program. That meant meeting a lot of different people she wouldn’t meet otherwise. Despite the fact it is a junior production with kids performing, she says the kids make it worth seeing.
“You can tell the kids on stage really love what they’re doing, and really love being on stage. Nobody’s afraid,” said Dartnall. “I do love “Singin’ in the Rain” (the number) it’s a classic, “Good Morning” always gets stuck in our heads too and I get to bad sing.”
Like director Stephanie Mackris says, you want to see talent, athletic ability and just good old fun community theater. The 2022 LSC Youth Summer Theater production of “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr. promises all three and more.
Be warned, you may even feel the splash of the rain drops. In other words, you might get wet!
The show opens Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. with evening performances Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and afternoon matinee performances Saturday & Sunday at 4 p.m.
Loveland Stage Company Children’s Summer Theater presents:
- “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.”
- David Marcus-Producer, Stephanie Mackris- Director, Marjory Clegg- Choreographer
- Dates: June 23-26
- Times: 7 p.m. Thur-Sat and 4 p.m. Sat & Sun
- Where: All performances – Loveland Stage Co. Theater, 111 S. Second St., Loveland, OH 45140
- Tickets Available now at: www.lovelandstagecompany.org