Sequim may not be known for its rainfall, but students will be singing in it soon — in an Olympic Peninsula Academy production of “Singin’ In The Rain Jr.”
A somewhat modified version of the 1952 classic movie musical meant for a younger cast, “Singin’ In The Rain Jr.” looks to capture the period drama and humor of the original script. Michele Canepa and DeeDee Nielsen have directed a fun and engaging performance led by their young and enthusiastic cast.
Boasting a cast of more than 30 students, each member of the OPA theatre program has a part on stage, with cast members from previous productions volunteering to provide help backstage and with the technical side of the production.
Mia Coffman, who plays struggling leading lady Lina Lamont in the play, said she enjoyed getting to play a character with a “different personality” from most of what the show offers, and has enjoyed making new friends and learning about the theater process.
“I’ve learned how to work as part of a group,” she said, “and that means a lot to me.”
Dean Rynearson has been involved in OPA’s theatre program since he was in grade school, and as leading man Don Lockwood, he’s enjoying his “exciting” role.
“I’ve loved working on the singing and choreography,” he said, laughing as he added that he’s still working on some of the notes Don has to be able to reach in his songs.
One actress, Cadence Puhrmann, expanded a bit more on how OPA and the theatre program have impacted her life. She joined OPA because of bullying issues that she and her brother were experiencing, and she told the Gazette that theatre has “helped me find myself, both in the part and off the stage.”
Puhrmann plays Dora Bailey, a gossip columnist who in “Singin’ in the Rain” is used as a kind of announcer of shifts in the plot and what’s happening on stage.
“It’s an incredible experience to be part of,” Puhrmann said of being part of “Singin’ In The Rain Jr.”
“We’re a funky group and we put on a great play,” she said.
Canepa, the production’s director, couldn’t help but sing the praises of her students, talking about how much fun they’ve had in the production in OPA’s second year of doing “Broadway Jr.” productions. Last year, OPA students performed “Mary Poppins Jr.” and she said her students have enjoyed something that’s a little bit more serious.
“These kids have worked together magnificently,” Canepa said. “Even when someone makes a mistake, everyone rallies around them and keeps them from beating themselves up. That’s so valuable to learn, because it’s so needed with friends and in the community.”
Canepa and Nielsen said they are proud of the challenges that their students have overcome, with some students dealing with physical or mental disabilities, as well as the anxiety that always goes with learning to be on stage.
“They’re taking care of each other out there,” Canepa said. “They don’t look to us; if someone forgets a line or a prop or a piece of costume, everyone else steps up and fixes it.”
Nielsen also noted that despite having a number of scheduling issues with Sequim High School that have limited their ability to use the stage during rehearsals, the students have adapted well and not let it be a problem.
OPA’s performances of “Singin’ In The Rain Jr.” are 7 p.m. Friday, May 31, and two showings at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at the Sequim High School auditorium. Tickets are available at the doors by donation.