If you want to walk out of a theater smiling and feeling happy, then go watch 40 kids tapping and singing their way across the stage in “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” The show opens on Friday, February 25 at 7 p.m. at Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road.
This reviewer loves tap dancing and wasn’t disappointed as the cast capably went through difficult steps with ease. Director Lara Ganz was asked how they managed to get a cast of third through eighth graders from 10 different schools that could tap.
“Quarantine, in addition to online schooling and Zoom classes, have left some emotional bruises on our children’s overall development that will take time to heal,” Ganz explained. “However, there was a silver lining here. With the encouragement of our extraordinary and inspiring tap dance teacher, Rebecca Barragan, our TPY community found that we could learn tap dancing on Zoom while quarantining. Parents would tell me it was the one hour of the week that their kids were actually happy to be on Zoom!
“The past two years have been incredibly challenging,” Ganz said, noting that “we had developed a community of young actors who had been learning to tap dance, and with the backdrop of our ‘two-year rainstorm,’ we thought it was the perfect time to perform Singin’ in the Rain Jr!”
This is the first TPY musical production in Pierson Playhouse, since 2020, when the group presented “Frozen.”
The story revolves around silent movies turning into “talkies.” When Monumental Studios’ biggest star, Lina Lamont, is found lacking vocally, something must be done.
The youth actress I watched play Lina was hysterical—I felt she was channeling Meryl Streep, (who played “Florence Foster Jenkins”).
The parts have been double and triple cast so that more kids get a chance to have major roles. An additional 12 youth serve as stage crew.
Ganz said that just as TPY was starting rehearsals for this show, the Omicron surge hit, and rehearsals were held outside. But like the Don Lockwood character (played by Gene Kelly in the film), the kids felt happy and unflappable.
“Being reunited with each other, in passion and purpose, inspired the same glorious feeling – we realized that we were ‘happy again!’” Ganz said. “For our cast, their singing and dancing represents their emerging optimism and resilience, carrying them through difficult situations.
“We hope that our radiant cast with their beaming, joyous spirits lifts you up as they share their voices and light,” Ganz said.
The costumes were done by parent designer Zoe Roche. All vaccinated kids in the cast are required to get tested tomorrow before the show and again before the March 3 show. Unvaccinated performers are required to test every day there is a show.
If you miss opening night, additional shows will be held Saturday, February 26 and March 5, at 2 and 5 p.m. On Sunday, February 27 and March 6, the show is at 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday March 3 and 4, the show is at 7 p.m. General admission is $22, and seniors/students are $17. To purchase tickets, visit theatrepalisades.org/youth/.