In spite of the cinematic rain and actual winter chill, a burst of sunshine shone through the Garden State this past weekend as the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presented a unique and thoroughly enjoyable event.
On Saturday evening, February 7th, these professional musicians took to the stage at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center to play the orchestral score from the 1952 classic while the movie was shown above them. With keen sound technology, the integrity of the vocals and tap dancing were maintained against a lively and vibrant orchestra. Under the direction of Constantine Kitsopoulos, memorable and often recognizable melodies came alive, treating the audience to tuneful ear candy. On Sunday afternoon, February 8th, New Brunswick audiences were delivered the same delightful confection at the State Theatre.
Singin’ In the Rain, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green is a musical comedy set against the backdrop of the roaring twenties. Dashing leading man Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the biggest silent screen celebrities in Hollywood. While the public believes that their on-screen romance mirrors their real life relationship, nothing could be further from the truth. Lockwood has little time nor patience for the pushy and manipulative Lamont and instead,he turns his attention towards chorus girl Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Soon, talking pictures are in vogue and Lockwood’s best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Conner),is hired as the musical director. Unfortunately for Lamont, whose strident tones will soon be revealed, it may mean the end of her career.Like any old fashioned musical, there is no shortage of minor drama, but laughter and love are sure to triumph.
There apparently was no scarcity in the wardrobe department either. According to the Internet Movie Data Base, Walter Plunkett’s splashy costumes cost the studio $157,000, most of which are seen in the dazzling “Beautiful Girl” montage and later in “The Broadway Melody”. Whatever you’re wearing now or have hanging in your closet will most likely look like a garment from the scrap box of Goodwill in comparison to this flashy attire.
While Comden and Green were already established Broadway and Hollywood writers, they surprisingly contributed lyrics to only one song in the movie, “Moses Supposes” (sung by Kelly andO’Conner). The remainder of the musical selections were comprised of songs from other MGM musicals by producer Arthur Freed, who also served as their lyricist.Nacio Herb Brown collaborated with Freed, writing the music to the film’s other well-known hits including, “All I Do Is Dream of You”, “Make ‘Em Laugh”, “Good Morning” and the quintessential title song. There isn’t a single tune in the movie that won’t leave you smiling or swooning.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has not only reminded us how fun a night of light-hearted screen music can be and what an absolutely joy-filled film Singin’ In the Rain is ; they’ve also reminded us that the power of live symphonic music-when played to this level of excellence- is a vital treasure.
For more information about the Symphony’s upcoming programs, visit http://www.njsymphony.org/