It's been hot and sunny for days now but there's rain in the forecast for downtown Bakersfield this week. At least by way of Chester Avenue, where Stars Theatre Restaurant debuts its production of "Singin' in the Rain."
According to Cody Garcia, who plays silent film star Don Lockwood, "There’s a 99.9 percent chance of rain here at Stars, so come prepared with that umbrella and raincoat ready!"
(Set designer Cory McCall was able to execute the special effects in just a few days' time, said director Bruce Saathoff.)
The show is a passion project for cast and crew, from Saathoff, who performed in the show years ago at Harvey Auditorium, to the three leads — Garcia, Jake Wattenbarger and Kelci Cerri (who play, respectively, vaudevillian Cosmo Brown and chorus girl Kathy Selden) — who teamed for a performance of the show's “Good Morning” at last year's "A Celebration of Stars."
"There was a charismatic energy that we brought to it that people just couldn’t stop talking about," Garcia said of the number in an email. "We knew from that very moment that 'Singin’ In The Rain' had to be in Stars’ future and have been trying to recapture that energy with our production ever since."
Saathoff was excited to helm the classic musical, noting in an email, "It’s a light-hearted love story with lots of classic song and dance numbers."
The musical follows the three stars as they navigate the transition from silent films to "talkies" in the late 1920s.
Of course, before the musical there was the now classic 1952 film starring Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly, who performs the title song in an iconic song-and-dance sequence.
Garcia said, "To put it simply, the man was otherworldly — he’s one of the greatest performers of all time and his (tap) shoes are certainly going to be big ones for me to fill!"
The actor said that is his favorite number as he's alone on stage, making a connection with the audience.
"It’s one of those rare moments in theater where your performance is able to transcend into something beyond itself, if you put your full heart and soul into it, and it’s so surreal and beautiful that even when you’re in the moment, you feel so full of joy that it feels like you’re dreaming."
Saathoff also feels the escapism the production has to offer, with an upbeat story and recognizable numbers and peppy dance routines.
"I think this is a perfect show to 'get away' from it all for a bit," Saathoff said. "Forget your troubles and just feel happy for a bit."