Palmer ‘Singin’ praises of toe-tapping role
Actor Sean Palmer, starring as Don Lockwood in "Singing' in the Rain" at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
1:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 1:30 and 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 6 p.m. Sundays.
Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
Updated: November 1, 2012 1:50PM
Singing in the rain is nothing new for Sean Palmer.
“I’ve definitely had my share of rain onstage,” Palmer said. “I just did ‘Crazy for You’ at Regent’s Park outdoors. With the London weather, it oftentimes rained down on us.” What is new for Palmer is bein rained on indoors as happens in Drury Lane Theatre’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Palmer plays Don Lockwood, the handsome 1920’s silent movie star about to launch a career in the “talkies.”
“I’ve always been interested in the part,” Palmer said, adding that he’s a big fan of Gene Kelly who played the role in the 1952 film. Palmer also has his share of fans because of his recurring role as Marcus on the TV series, “Sex and the City.”
Palmer is particularly happy to be performing this coveted role at Drury Lane. “It’s a great opportunity to do it in a really good theater where the production will be given its proper dues,” he said.
Lockwood is “a ham, first and foremost,” Palmer said. “He’s a real movie star. He gets hit ‘upside the head’ by Kathy because he falls in love with someone who expects more from him and expects him to be real. His life has all the outer trappings of being romantic — he’s rich and doing movies.”
But he doesn’t know what real love is until he falls for Kathy Selden, played by Jenny Guse, a local favorite whose credits include “Follies” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and “42nd Street” at Marriott Theatre.
“She is kind of a spitfire,” Guse said of Kathy. “She’s very honest. She’ll play a little game with Don at the beginning but she says what she thinks most of the time. Don can’t win her over his usual way because she’s very smart. She makes him be honest with her. I think that’s what makes her so endearing. No one says things to him that she says. Sparks fly when that happens.”
The biggest challenge for Guse has been making Kathy’s voice “flawless.” That’s because her character has to do all the onscreen talking and singing for Lina Lamont (Melissa Van Der Schyff), a silent film star with a voice that can make ears bleed.
The lively dance routines are the most fun for Guse. “I consider myself a tapper first,” she explained.
Guse is particularly looking forward to singing, “You are My Lucky Star” and “Would You?” and giving them the honesty they deserve. “They’re great songs but they mean so much more when there’s something underneath them,” she explained.
Director Bill Jenkins, who balances his professional directing career with serving as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Ball State University, described the film version of “Singin’ in the Rain” as “probably the best movie musical ever made.” That film was transformed into a Broadway musical in the 1980s.
Jenkins enthusiastically took on this directing production because, “I was excited about being able to merge not only a story that can be applicable to an audience that isn’t familiar with the movie and make it stand on its own,” he said. “But also take the things about the movie that everybody remembers and loves so much and make them come alive.”
The director considers the musical a love story. “It’s a love story between a man and a woman. It’s a love story between two friends (Lockwood and Cosmo, played by Matthew Crowle). It’s a love story between the idea of theater and the movies,” he said.
Jenkins’ direction focuses on those relationships. “We’ve let this idea of the theater meets the movie come together in the design concept as well as in the work that we’re doing to make the relationship of the three main characters come to life.”