The Catasauqua High School Drama Club presented their 2018 Freddy Awards-contending spring musical from March 9-11, bringing the classic Hollywood film Singin’ in the Rain to life.
The musical, based on the 1952 film starring dance legend Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, is an ambitious one for any high school to perform, but Catasauqua’s director Brenda McGuire knew her students were up to the challenge.
“We asked ourselves, what can we have our kids experience that they have not experienced before?” she says in her director’s notes.
She and her husband, assistant director Kerry McGuire, offered students a list of “Old Broadway” classics and the tap-dancing-filled Singin’ in the Rain was unanimously picked by members of the drama club.
“Never had any of them tapped before June 2017,” McGuire continues.
However, it was hard for audience members to tell that not a single cast member had ever tapped before. In the company number “Broadway Melody,” the high school’s auditorium thundered with the sound of tap shoes and was brightened with the smiles of over two dozen cast members, who ranged from grades seventh through twelfth.
Senior Connor McCully starred as silent film star Don Lockwood, played by Kelly in the film. Senior Branden Bilheimer starred as Lockwood’s friend Cosmo Brown, played by O’Connor in the film. Sophomore Noel Cruz starred as Kathy Selden, aspiring actress and Lockwood’s love interest, a role which was performed by Reynolds in the film.
McCully demonstrated the charm and swagger of Kelly and left the audience cheering after performing the classic number “Singin’ in the Rain.” The number featured real rain falling from the set, which McCully gleefully tap danced and splashed his way through.
Meanwhile, Bilheimer brought the charisma of Cosmo Brown to life and had the audience roaring with laughter during his rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh.” The intense number filled with slapstick humor and acrobatic dance moves, which infamously forced exhausted film star O’Connor to take to his bed for three days, is a favorite for many fans of the musical and Bilheimer never lost energy as he tapped, jumped, spun, and flipped his way across the stage.
Finally, Cruz perfectly captured the kindness and spunk of Selden. Her songs “You Are My Lucky Star” and “Would You” are noticeably slower than the fast-paced tap numbers that fill the rest of the show, yet they gave Cruz the perfect opportunity to showcase her vocal talents. Cruz, Bilheimer, and McCully got to show all their talents off together during the famous number “Good Morning.”
Junior Zoe Mulzet also starred as Lina Lamont, the squeaky-voiced villain who tries to sideline the leading trio’s talking-film ambitions, as well as Lockwood’s and Selden’s romance. Mulzet got plenty of laughs with her high-pitched voice and her frequent question: “What’d ya think I am? Dumb or somethin’?”
However, in addition to the principle roles, the entire company needs to be commended for their hard work. The performance of Singing’ in the Rain was truly a team effort, with every member of the cast and crew working hard to transport audiences back to the Roaring Twenties and the dawn of “talking pictures.”
Meanwhile, McGuire hopes her students have found something to take away from their experience: a love for tap dancing.
“I do believe some of the students have found a love for something they never knew they had,” she says. “I am truly astounded at the talent that is here in Catty.”
The 2018 Freddy Awards will premiere live on WFMZ on Thursday, May 24.