I've always loved musicals. Well, not always. My first introduction into musicals came in high school when I was asked to play Og the Leprechaun in the musical Finian's Rainbow. Perhaps a brief back-story is appropriate here. In high school, I was a slightly overweight, insecure kid with few friends. I was smart, but not in the way that academics was designed to verify. But I loved to sing and often sang in church. In 10th grade, on a whim, I joined chorus. And there, I found my place and came alive. It was redemption and epiphany rolled into one. As a senior, after 2 1/2 years in the chorus, they decided to do a musical. And I was pegged as the leprechaun. I told them I'd do it as long as I didn't have to wear tights. They assured me that I wouldn't, and then two weeks before opening night, after I was already thoroughly locked in, they told me I'd have to wear tights. It was the most fun I'd had in six years of high school (the musical, not the tights). I even got to kiss a girl on stage. A beautiful girl, way beyond my league, as it were. And I got to kiss her in rehearsals, and during three or four performances. It was . . . delightful. ;-) Since then, I've loved musicals.
But I digress. A few weeks ago, Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas where I live put on the classic Singin' in the Rain, the classic musical starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. Since my son was playing in the orchestra anyway, we went. To say they did a magnificent job would be an understatement. And of course, I took photos. Playing the lead role (and shown in the photo above) was Peter Garza, a wickedly talented performer who can sing and dance with style that belies his youth. I've heard Peter sing before to my delight, and learned in this musical that his dancing is as good as his singing. He is destined to go far as an entertainer, which I pray is his goal.
Peter's partner in the comic relief department was Domonique Gordon, shown above. Domonique can dance about as well as Peter, and the two of them together were incredible. Domonique added spunk and pulled off the clever wit of his role with aplomb.
The guy in the middle above was the diction teacher played by Riley Watson. Hearing him, with prudish hilarity, repeat the words, "Moses supposes his toeses are roses" was worth the price of admission. Of course, Peter and Domonique turned it into a song and a dance and made it one of the highlights of the night.
And then there were the two leading ladies. Lina Lamont was played by Shelby Walker. Shelby deserves an Oscar for her performance. If you've seen the original, you'll know that Lina Lamont has a whiny, shrill voice, perfect for silent films, but disastrous if you can hear it. Shelby did an amazing job with the voice, even singing with it during one number. That couldn't have been easy and shows her talent.
The other leading lady, playing Kathy Selden, was Sionna Williams. I've heard Sionna sing before, and she's got a velvety smooth voice that melts your heart. And she can dance as well.
Here are a few final favorites from the show:
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the orchestra did a magnificent job of supporting the cast. Of course, I think the trumpet section was awesome (my son plays the trumpet)! ;-)
The Cooper High School Fine Arts Department is to be commended for their continued support of the fine arts. They continue to knock it out of the park. Singin' in the Rain showcased their very best effort and represented everything a fine arts department should be for the students and for the community. Very well done!