ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About “six or seven years ago,” rain fell on the floor during an Albuquerque Little Theatre production.
“The last time we got the floor wet, we replaced it,” said Henry Avery, the theater’s artistic director and director of the revived musical “Singin’ in the Rain,” set to open this coming weekend.
The musical is based on the classic 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Gene Kelly directed, choreographed and starred in the movie with co-stars Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor.
“It’s about a very big movie star in the silent movies,” Avery said. “The background story is of the talkies. His leading lady has a terrible voice and can’t make it in the talkies.”
The star asks his new girlfriend to dub Lina’s squeaky voice and fireworks ensue.
Set in the late 1920s, the complicated stage production has involved filming three black-and-white movies for background as the show progresses. The last features dubbed-in music.
“You see them prepare and then you see the film,” Avery said.
“It’s a lot of tap dancing,” he continued. “Maybe one-tenth of the cast had experience with tap and the others had to learn.”
“Singin’ in the Rain” features a cast of about 28, he added.
“At one point, we have to have yellow rain slickers for the entire cast,” he said. “Thank God I saved them (from the last production), so we don’t have to rent them.”
Originally trained as an architect, Avery has had to design a set that catches the required water for the famous dancing scene.
“We haven’t had a technical director since January,” he said, “so I’m doing all the sets. It takes a village, I tell you.”
The new floor features a more malleable surface than the original, ruined version, he added.
“When we replaced that floor, we sold pieces of it. We turned them into little plaques.”