There’ll be a load of hoofin’ happenin’ in Chemainus Theatre Festival’s next musical romp, Singin’ In The Rain.
Some of the fancy footwork comes courtesy of Leon Willey cast as Don Lockwood — the rain-soaked role made legendary by Gene Kelly in MGM’s 1952 hit movie.
Willey will be opposite Rachel Harrison as girlfriend Kathy Selden, and Jonathan Purvis as pal Cosmo Brown, in an adaptation directed by choreographer Tracey Power.
He is also wild about his newest theatre gig because he will be sharing the stage with his professional-dancer wife, Krista Konkin, who plays a movie exec’s gal-Friday. That’s the same stage the couple met in 2007 during CTF’s production Anything Goes.
It’s all come full circle for the 36-year-old Moose Jaw-based actor, who also appeared in the theatre’s farce Noises Off, and longed for a role like Lockwood.
“The biggest excitement I have is to tell this kind of story.
“The basis is there’s a group of silent-movie actors making the leap into talkies. Like silent stars back then, some didn’t make the leap very well as their voice was terrible, or they couldn’t speak English very well.”
That situation gives way to a love story, he explained.
Lockwood tires of performing with fading silent-era actress Lina Lamont (Emma Slipp) “when he meets a feisty, together girl named Kathy and he’s taken aback.”
“It’s the first time Don’s ever been challenged by a woman in that way,” Willey said of the show-biz bonanza.
“He falls madly in love — not only do I get to sing and dance with Kathy, but I also have these lovely scenes.”
Toss in a mob of movie-making characters, plus Steven Greenfield’s onstage musicians, and Rain could flood houses.
“We wanted to stay true to the original music,” Willey said. “If anyone’s seen the film, they’ll instantly recognize the songs.”
His favourite is the title tune.
“This is a bucket-list role for me,” said the Bowen Island boy who attended Vancouver Film School.
“The cast is all solid actors; I was attracted by the artistic team,” he said, likening the action to playing tennis.
But tap-dancing wasn’t always Willey’s racket — it meant plenty of sole searching for dance skills after landing the lead role.
“I basically tap danced every single day until I got better and faster,” he said, noting lessons from Konkin, and at several dance schools.
Willey described Rain’s moral as being about taking risks to grow.
And about the water during that famous Singin’ In The Rain routine? “That’s a bit of a secret, but it will definitely rain — someone might get splashed if I’m feeling extra frisky,” Willey said.
What: Singin’ In The Rain
When: June 14-Aug. 25
Where: Chemainus Theatre Festival
Tickets: Call 250-246-9820