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The Boiling Point

Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

REVIEW: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ adds music, dancing to the best of Shalhevet drama

Cheery and interactive meets polish and dazzle as Drama Dept stages its second musical in two years
Ella Hoenig
CHARACTERS: Nathan Soussana’s suave Don Lockwood was backed by an expert supporting cast throughout the show, among them Alexa Azran as Lina Lamont, pictured above to his right. The show’s 14 performers were highly practiced and their stage moves and dancing seemed effortless.

As the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, a hunched and elderly man emerged from the corner of the room, accompanied by a nurse. Slowly, they made their way to the center of the stage, where the man silently walked to a dusty old piano. Then, after what seemed like an eternity of silence, he hit a key on the piano – and the stage burst into life. Music soared, actors danced and spun, and Shalhevet’s fourth-ever musical — the second in two years – began.

Mr. Flemings is trained as a choreographer, and throughout the show all movement on the stage, even the most complex multi-character scenes, was clearly finely tuned.

Shalhevet’s production of Singin’ in the Rain, staged March 5-12, was a cheery and interactive take on the classic 1952 movie. The plot follows fictional silent film superstar Don Lockwood, played suavely by senior Nathan Soussana, as the world is being introduced to “talkies,” movies with speaking instead of just music. Don’s perpetual romantic costar Lina Lamont, played by Alexa Azran, is a high-pitched, screechy-toned star of the silent screen, so when Don and Lina’s movie is turned into a musical, the producer finds aspiring actress Kathy Seldon, played by Maayan Mazar, to record over her voice.

Directed by this year’s new drama teacher Jonathan Flemings, the production was shown in the Wildfire Theater, but instead of the usual stage with audiences facing the actors and sets from one direction, it was configured to have the audience sitting on the left, right, and back wall of the room, with the stage jutting out into what would normally be the audience area, surrounded by seats on three sides.

As Kathy Seldon, Maayan Mazar’s beautiful voice stood out as a highlight of the show perfectly fitting her portrayal of the character’s development. (Ella Hoenig)

In addition, actors entered and exited from all corners of the room instead of emerging from backstage. Combined with moments in the play where Lina Lamont and ensemble members directly spoke to or even threw party streamers into the audience, the overall effect was an environment that was more of an experience than just a viewing.

One of the highlights of the show was the choreography throughout. Performers said they’d spent about two-and-a-half months practicing dancing and blocking the show, leading to a highly polished production.

Several acting performances stood out. Freshman Alexa Azran’s portrayal of Lina Lamont and her gratingly high-pitched voice was both comedic and surprising. More than once, that voice made the audience laugh hysterically. In an interview, Alexa said she and Mr. Flemings were not completely satisfied with the Lamont voice until the week before the show.

“During all the actual practices, I kind of did not get there…” Alexa said. “The last practice before the play, we did a practice where everyone goes over the top. And when I did it like that he said that’s how I had to do it in the play, and so that’s how I did it in the play.”

Zion Schlussel and Nathan Soussana, along with the rest of the cast, pulled off complex dance numbers, sometimes while singing. (Ella Hoenig)

Zion Schlussel’s performance as Cosmo Brown, Don Lockwood’s old friend, was another highlight; his line delivery and comedic timing were perfect, his ability to sing and dance at the same time, seemingly with ease, was dazzling.  At ease and seemingly at home on the stage – though it was his first foray into musical theater, he confirmed to the Boiling Point –  the energy he brought made all of his scenes vibrant and fun.

Maayan Mazar, playing Kathy Seldon, was another standout. She portrayed Sheldon’s initial mask of snobbiness as well as its fade to reveal a believably kind core, allowing the character progression to feel real. Her practiced and strong-yet-sweet-toned vocals on songs like “Good Morning”  and “All I Do Is Dream of You” were the perfect foil to Lamont’s hilarious pitchiness.

Nathan Soussana as Don Lockwood not only delivered his lines convincingly and sang well, but he also danced to a level that felt professional and smooth. Throughout iconic scenes like the titular song “Singing in the Rain,” he sang and danced without sounding breathless or tired. His voice was smooth like a real 1920s or ‘30s film star.

Zion, Nathan and Maayan, all seniors, also are or were longtime members of the Choirhawks, experience which was clearly reflected in all of their vocals, which sounded clear and powerful even throughout dancing scenes.

At ease and seemingly at home on the stage – though it was his first foray into musical theater – the energy Zion brought made all of his scenes vibrant and fun.

Mr. Flemings is trained as a choreographer, and throughout the show all movement on the stage, even the most complex multi-character scenes, was clearly finely tuned. The large support cast – which included members of all four grades – made this look easy, while the principle characters pulled off hard dancing stunts – including singing while sitting on a falling couch – without fumbling or seeming in any way nervous. The cast consisted of 14 members, many of whom provided audience interaction by talking directly to the people in the seats.

As the show came to a close, Soussana’s Lockwood emerged onto the stage as an old man, holding a rose. He walked slowly to the center, kneeled down, and placed the rose onto the floor. In the audience, there were feelings of shock and sadness at realizing that Lockwood was now visiting Sheldon’s grave.

The audience took a breathless pause before applauding loudly – a testament to how emotional and effective this final scene was, given the connection with the characters and story that had built up through the whole play.

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About the Contributor
Sonya Katzin
Sonya Katzin, Arts & Culture Editor
Sonya Katzin, 10th grade, joined the Boiling Point as a staff writer in her freshman year, and this year as a sophomore is the Arts and Culture Editor. Outside of Boiling Point, Sonya is on the Shalhevet tennis team and swim team, and outside of school, she volunteers as a tutor with Reading Partners at LAUSD's Carthay Elementary School. She also enjoys reading, watching movies, and hanging out with her friends.

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    Phyllis Katzin, Los AngelesMay 15, 2024 at 8:19 pm

    So vibrantly written that the words sing and dance off the page!