"As a tot in Northern Canada, my mom and I used to watch movie musicals, dreaming ourselves inside them, to escape the cabin fever that often accompanies below freezing temperatures," Van Der Schyff told Playbill.com. "This holiday season I have the luxury of living out that dream in the stage version of one of the most popular movie musicals of all time. It has been a joy to pay homage to the Magic of the Movies while finding my own interpretation of the comically tragic Lina Lamont."
"Producer Kyle De Santis, Artistic Director Bill Osetek and Director Bill Jenkins are some of the warmest and most generous folks you could ever hope to work with and truly made me feel like a movie star at every turn with a lavish working and living environment. It has been a joy to make 'em laugh in an almost sold out run with Broadway’s triple threat Tony Yazbeck, Chicago's rising star Matt Crowle and the amazingly talented Jenny Guse along with a stellar cast, crew & creatives. I never get tired of seeing the beaming faces in the audience at curtain call. Special thanks to Amber Wuttke (Wig Dresser & Wardrobe) who helped me put together this photo feature. Here's my Love Letter to Drury Lane, The Windy City & The Cinema, including some magical twists & turns of the imagination that may surprise you!"
PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: Christmas in Chicago With Singin' in the Rain Star Melissa Van Der Schyff
The stage version of the 1952 M-G-M movie musical appeared on Broadway in 1985 (preceded by the 1983 London production) under the direction of Twyla Tharp, who also choreographed. The famous title number, complete with rain, was (and remains) the show's scenic centerpiece. It ran nearly a year on Broadway. The version was not an exact match of the famous film; its later stock and amateur script (like the version now playing Drury Lane) hews more closely to the original movie, which boasted songs by composer Nacio Herb Brown and lyricist Arthur Freed.
Singin' in the Rain features one of the largest casts ever assembled on the Drury Lane stage: Jenny Guse (Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 42nd Street at Marriott Theatre and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Theatre at the Center) as Kathy Selden; Matthew Crowle (Spamalot on Broadway, the national tour of Doctor Dolittle directed by Tommy Tune) as Cosmo; and Drama Desk Award nominee Melissa Van Der Schyff (Blanche Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway) as Lina Lamont.
Bill Jenkins (chair of Ball State University's department of theatre and dance, director of Drury Lane Theatre's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) directs the production.
The musical comedy is set in 1920 Hollywood as movies are transitioning from silent to sound. Don and his shrill co-star Lina attempt to make the bumpy crossover with the help of Don's new girl, Kathy, and his best pal, Cosmo. The libretto is by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who also penned the revered screenplay.
The score includes "Make 'Em Laugh," "Moses Supposes" (by Comden, Green and Roger Edens), "All I Do Is Dream of You," "Would You?," "You Are My Lucky Star," "Good Morning" and more.
The cast also features Don Forston as R.F. Simpson, Scott Calcagno as Roscoe Dexter, Jeff Award winner John Reeger as Diction Coach, Catherine Lord as Miss Dinsmore, Jeff Award winner Renee Matthews as Dora Bailey and Cara Salerno as Lady in Green, with William Carlos Angulo, Karissa Barney, Johnson Brock, Gary Calson, Daniel Coonley, Megan Farley, Betsy Farrar, Allyson Graves, Kyle Halford, Katie Huff, Jonathan Kwock, Katie Mazzini, Willie Mellina, Alexandra Palkovic, Laura Savage, Will Skrip, Brandon Springman, Amanda Tanguay, George Andrew Wolff and Zach Zube.
Jeff Award winner Roberta Duchak is musical director. The production is choreographed by Amber Mak. The choreography for "Fit as a Fiddle," "Make 'Em Laugh," "Moses Supposes" and "Good Morning" is by Matthew Crowle. The elaborate scenery is conceived by Jeff Award-winning designer Kevin Depinet. The creative team also includes lighting designer Julie Mack, costume designer Maggie Hoffman, Jeff Award-winning sound designer Ray Nardelli and wig designer Heather Flemming.
For more information, visit drurylaneoakbrook.com.