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Singin’ in the Rain, Freedom High School, Chantilly, Virginia, March 9, 2019

Carolyn Best

Oakton High School


Whether it was scattered showers of vaudeville tap dancing or cloudy with a chance of Broadway Rhythm, during Freedom High School's production of "Singin' in the Rain," when it rained, it poured!


Based on Gene Kelly's legendary 1950's movie musical, the "Singin' in the Rain" stage adaptation features book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Nacio Herb Brown, and lyrics by Arthur Freed. Originally premiering in London in 1983 and moving to Broadway in 1985, the show has enjoyed numerous Laurence Olivier and Tony nods, including winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival in 2001.


Set at the dawn of the talking picture, the iconic musical follows a 1920fs Hollywood silent film production company's search for the limelight. Led by successful silent film star Don Lockwood, his right-hand man Cosmo Brown, and his love interest Kathy Seldon, the trio set out to save the studio's latest flop by turning it into a musical. Whether its wrestling with covering for the Lockwood's less than talented co-star Lina Lamont or wrestling with a newfangled microphone, the trio learns to take on every challenge with a laugh, come rain or shine.


Playing the famous puddle jumper himself, Ethan Van Slyke proved a limitless triple threat as Don Lockwood. Delicately teeter-tottering Don's suave celebrity status with his equally important soft romantic side, Van Slyke evoked Gene Kelly with ease, not to mention his expert tapping skills.


A hero's story is not complete without his sidekick, and Josh Lee stepped up to the plate and the keys as Lockwood's hilarious dancing, singing, piano-playing pal, Cosmo Brown. In show stoppers like "Make 'Em Laugh" and "Moses Supposes", Lees wits were as quick as his feet.


Breaking the rules of the requisite musical love interest, Julia Leipertz showed she could hold her own as the spunky and sweet Kathy Seldon, all the while happy to lend a helping hand. Leipertz's lovely energy was marvelously counterbalanced by Sarah Rice's portrayal of the brassy and nasal Lina Lamont. Rice delved into playing the character we "can't stand". As Lina would say, what's wrong with Sarah Rice? Nothin!


The musical's ensemble was fit as a fiddle, enhancing every scene with vibrant energy even on the cloudiest of days.


Pushing the show above and beyond were student choreographers Ethan Van Slyke and Austin Taylor. Proving it would be hard to fill their tap shoes, the duo never shied away from making sure their dance was en pointe. Seriously, Gene Kelly has met his match.


Equally as impressive were special effects. TJ Hartless, Miguel Davila, and Ryan Burke expertly included and modified film to make a real scrappy staticky feel. And you can't have "Singin' in the Rain" without rain, right? The inclusion of a high-tech rain curtain made for a spectacularly soggy show.


The Lucky Stars of Freedom High School's Production shined bright, leaving audiences with suns in their hearts and ready for love.


Lizzy Maisel

Westfield High School


Where can you find demanding divas, tap dancing fiddlers, comedic chaos, and a multitude of umbrellas? Why, Singin' in the Rain! Freedom High School's production of Singin' in the Rain incorporated all of this and more with its talented cast and crew.


With book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music and lyrics by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, Singin' in the Rain has previously been named one of the greatest motion pictures of all time. The well-known film starring Gene Kelly was later adapted for West End and eventually hit the Broadway stage in 1985.


Set in Hollywood in 1927, Singin' in the Rain focuses around suave movie star Don Lockwood and his narcissistic co-star Lina Lamont. The two are adored by fans for their work in silent films but when their producer at Monumental Studios wishes to create the company's first musical picture there's just one problem. Lina can't talk, let alone sing, without people cringing at the sound of her voice. The effort put forth by the entire cast reflected their hard work and brought the show to life.


Ethan Van Slyke commanded the stage as Don Lockwood. Performing complex tap routines that he choreographed with the help of Austin Taylor, Van Slyke captured Lockwood's charming and smooth nature. His happy-go-lucky attitude in "Singin' in the Rain" contrasted well with ensemble members who frantically rushed across the stage to avoid being rained on. Van Slyke maintained a sweet romantic connection with Julia Leipertz who portrayed the role of Kathy Seldon. Don and Kathy unintentionally meet on a park bench one day when Don attempts to escape from a crowd of fans. Their relationship only grew following the park bench meeting and Leipertz and Van Slyke's voices blended beautifully together in "Lucky Star Reprise." Leipertz shone especially in "Kathy's Would You" and she consistently carried herself grace and ingenuity.


Josh Lee portrayed Cosmo Brown, the playful pianist and loyal friend to Don Lockwood, with comedic flare. Lee matched Van Slyke's energy in their tap duets "Fit as a Fiddle" and "Moses Supposes" and their timing as well as partnership were remarkable. Lee's physicality and humor throughout "Make 'Em Laugh" was hysterically his own. Sarah Rice dominated in the role of Lina Lamont. Her whiny voice and impatient tone reflected her character's identity perfectly.


The technical elements of the show further enhanced the overall performance from each actor. Austin Taylor and Ethan Van Slyke's immaculate choreography especially in tap routines were clean and pleasing to the eye. The special effects team (TJ Hartless, Ryan Burke, Kayla Cooper) outdid themselves with rain onstage during "Singin' in the Rain." When added to Van Slyke's dancing, this proved to be a true treat for the audience.


The cast and crew of Freedom High School's Singin' in the Rain produced a work of art. Their production left audience members yearning to sing and dance in the rain as if they were Don Lockwood.


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