While April showers typically bring May flowers, this spring, they are also bringing a cheerful group of actors and singers to North Riverside.
From April 24 to May 3, the North Riverside Players will be presenting six performances of Singin’ in the Rain, the American classic musical based off the popular 1952 musical comedy film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds.
The show centers on 1920s Hollywood film stars and their comical quest to navigate the tough transition from acting in silent films to talkies.
Since the Players perform in the gymnasium at the Scheck Village Commons and the village has plans to renovate the gymnasium floors in a few weeks, the group figured now would be the most opportune time to build elaborate set designs and incorporate the use of an indoor sprinkler system for the element of real rain for the musical without the worry of causing damage to the performance space.
For the show, the crew has built an overhead sprinkler system and under stage drainage system in order to replicate the outdoor rain scenes that the movie is famously known for.
“If you’re going to do Singin’ in the Rain, you’ve got to do the water,” co-director Sam Buonomo said.
Gerald Kelel, an actor from Chicago who will be performing in the role of leading man Don Lockwood, agrees that the use of actual rain on set is what will make this show unique and exciting on a community theater scale.
“It’s really neat that they’re making it rain,” Kelel said. “A lot of community theaters aren’t going to try and put a thunderstorm up on stage, so that’s been exciting.”
Aside from the creative technical design that the crew has brought to Singin’ in the Rain, Kelel is also excited to be starring in his third production with the Players.
“I got kind of pulled back in and [the Players] asked me to come out and thought it would be a good show for me,” he said. “What’s brought me back in general is the high production values that North Riverside is able to put on.”
Barry Irving, an Oak Park native who will be starring in his second Players production and performing the role of Lockwood’s sidekick, Cosmo Brown, agrees that the Players always go above and beyond with set designs than most other area community theater productions.
“My favorite part [of performing with the Players] is always tech week,” Irving said. “There is just something magical about taking a gymnasium and transforming it into a theater. That is what has made me fall in love with this process.”
Irving is also excited to be back performing in North Riverside because of the camaraderie that the theater group continues to have.
“I’ve always loved Singin’ in the Rain since I was a little kid, and I just wanted to be a part of this whole process again,” Irving said. “I just really love the family atmosphere in this group.”
North Riverside resident Buonomo and veteran director Jay Fontanetta teamed up for this spring’s production as co-directors and have been preparing for show time since early February.
“It’s a classic American show that’s energetic, fun and feel-good,” Buonomo said.
Fontanetta agrees with Buonomo, saying that fans of the movie will not be disappointed to see the local talent do a great job of staying true to the talented acting, singing and dancing of the film’s legendary actors.
“I think anyone that is familiar with the movie will be interested to see how it translates to the live stage,” he said.
Singin’ in the Rain will be performed at the North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave., North Riverside, on April 24, 25 and 26 and May 1, 2 and 3. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors 60 and older, $14 for students and $13 for children under 12. Tickets are $3 off on Friday, April 24, for opening night.
Tickets can be purchased at the door, by phone at 708-512-7015 or online by visiting www.nrplayers.com.