Forecast at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater?  Sprinkled rain with a little song and dance.

Forecast at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater? Sprinkled rain with a little song and dance.

Imagine that you are in the Louvre admiring the Mona Lisa. Suddenly, 25-year-old Lisa del Giocondo comes to life. He crawls through the frame, crosses the gallery and sits in front of an easel, where Leonardo da Vinci begins to paint his portrait. Well, that’s precisely what director and choreographer Amy Marie McCleary accomplishes with Prather Entertainment’s production of Singing in the rain on stage now through February 12.

“How wonderful it is to see Singing in the rain on stage is that it brings the film to life in a three-dimensional way,” says McCleary. “Seeing it in three dimensions adds this other level. It is simply magical. It comes to life in a new way.”

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Alex Fullerton plays Don Lockwood, Shannon Conboy plays Kathy Sheldon in the Palm Dinner Theater Broadway production of Singin’ in the Rain.

Imbued with incredible vision and a passion for storytelling, McCleary has built a reputation, both locally and nationally, for his smart, unique and fresh choreography. That is on display to an even greater extent in Singing in the rain, which includes crowd-pleasers like “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Moses Supposes,” “Good Mornin'” and, of course, “Singin’ in the Rain.”

That said, McCleary is careful not to stray too far from what the public expects.

“As a choreographer, there are certain pieces that you have to stick to the original choreography, and Singing in the rain it’s one of those,” says McCleary. “So for the big touch numbers, for ‘Fit as a Fiddle,’ for ‘Moses Supposes,’ for ‘Good Morning,’ for ‘Singin in the Rain,’ it’s 75, 80 percent of the original choreography taken from the movie. ”

But that still leaves room for McCleary to add his trademark innovative touches, which his dancers affectionately refer to as “McClearyography.”

Like any good coach, McCleary plays to the strength of his actors. As Sami Doherty, who reprises the role of the gangster tramp that Cyd Charisse played in the film. Like Charisse, Doherty can stop a man simply by lifting his leg.

But while the lady in green sequence is mostly faithful to the film, McCleary incorporated a few of his own flourishes.

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Sami Doherty plays the Lady in Green, a role played by Cyd Charisse in the film version of Singin’ in the Rain.

I changed some [aspects of The Lady in Green choreography] why sami [Doherty] he has some special skills that he wanted to show off,” shares McCleary.

Alex Fullerton (Mad About You, Peter Pan, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) plays Don Lockwood, a man who finds himself at a professional and personal crossroads as Hollywood transitions from silent to talkies.

loren stone (Smoke on the Mountain, Cinderella, Mamma Mia!, Crazy About You) plays his jolly, fun-loving sidekick, Cosmo Brown, who brings the house down with his Donald O’Connor-inspired antics in “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

and shannon conboy (Ladies in the Sea, A Man of No Importance, Little Shop of Horrors) shines as Lockwood’s refreshingly honest and no-nonsense love interest, Kathy Seldon.

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Alex Fullerton, Shannon Conboy and Loren Stone in Singing in the Rain at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater

Each provides strong, resonant vocals, most notably Conboy, who wows the audience with his renditions of “All I Do Is Dream of You” and “You Were Meant for Me/You Are My Lucky Star.” But unlike Debbie Reynolds, Conboy does all of his own songs.

Still, the real spectacle in this musical remains the title number.

To achieve this, Broadway Palm’s technical wizards installed a rain deck and water sprinkler that reproduces, live on stage, the unforgettable morning storm that took seven days to film. It’s worth the price of admission just to see Fullerton splashing and splashing in the puddles as the lights catch and refract the water droplets Fullerton kicks up during the scene.

And Broadway Palm doesn’t even have to add milk to the water for the lights to come on properly!

“As an actor, I was excited from the moment of casting that we were going to have rain on stage,” adds Conboy, whose character, Kathy Seldon, not only makes an appearance at the end of the scene, but wears it down. some really cute galoshes too. “The water is running off the stage. The audience is excited. I was excited to be a part of the scene. It’s just wonderful.”

As a lifelong fan of Gene Kelly, directing and choreographing Singing in the rain It has been another dream come true for McCleary. But in addition, it has given her and her cast the opportunity to dance in the footsteps of Gene Kelly in a way that gives them a greater understanding and appreciation for his legacy as one of America’s most iconic dancers.

“It was amazing to find, omigosh, that he uses this step over and over again, and my dancers and I realized that, oh, this is the Gene Kelly step… baadump, baadump, and shuffle, hop, step. It always does that. It’s been really exciting: learning those steps and delving into his personality, his creative genius.”

For the rest of us Singing in the rain it is pure entertainment and pure joy.

“No matter who you are, you’re going to love it,” promises Conboy. “You will laugh. You are going to smile. You will experience joy and also see a great tap dance and really have fun for two and a half hours.”

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Loren Stone, Shannon Conboy and Alex Fullerton in Singin’ in the Rain

Movie audiences have been laughing, smiling and enjoying the film for nearly seven decades. (The film celebrates the 70the anniversary of its premiere on April 12). In 2005, the British Film Institute included it in its list of the 50 films to be seen from the age of 14. In 2008, Empire The magazine ranked it as the eighth best film of all time. In sight and sound magazine’s 2012 List Of The 50 Greatest Movies Of All Time, Singing in the rain rank 20.

As good as the film is, the story is even better on stage, where its magic is amplified not only by seeing the film come to life in three dimensions, but also by the shared experience of watching it with a whole room full of people. and being able to cheer and clap for Don, Cosmo, and Kathy as they dance their way to your heart.

Singing in the rain runs at Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers through February 12.

To read more stories about the arts in Southwest Florida, visit Tom Hall’s website: SWFL Art in the News.

This Spotlight on the Arts feature is funded in part by Naomi Bloom, Jay & Toshiko Tompkins, and Julie & Phil Wade.

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