Interview with Osceola Arts’ Singin’ in the Rain Director

By: Michelle SaldivarSingin'-in-the-Rain

This weekend Osceola Arts will be premiering our latest Broadway Series show, Singin’ in the Rain.  Since it is such a beloved film-turned-Broadway musical, I decide to sit down with its director, Patch Panzella, to discuss his experience through the process of directing this well-known theatrical piece.

1. Why did you choose to direct Singin’ in the Rain?

“The Center chooses which shows they are going to produce each season and from those, I connected with Singin’ in the Rain the best. I felt that I understood how to execute this show more than the others in the mix. I thought ‘I’m a tap dancer. I am a choreographer’. It’s also just a fun, light-hearted show. It has the stuff that I like, so it just clicked perfectly for me.”

2. For how long have you been a tap dancer?

“Since I was about 13 years old. I grew up doing music and theater. Around that age, most of my theater friends were in dance classes and I worked backstage at one of their performances and I just thought ‘I need to do this. It’s just so cool.’ Since then I have only ever done tap and I just love it. I love the musical aspect of it.”

3. How long have you been directing?

“This is actually the second show that I have ever directed. My first show was exactly a year ago. It was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum here at the Center. Before that, I had been in about 30-40+ shows. I had done a lot of choreography, especially alongside my wife, Jennifer, who works here at the Center. So I have experience on the production side and I have an understanding on the overall vision and main idea of a show. Now I’m getting to know the directing side of it and it is a lot of fun having bold, creative control of a show. It makes you have a totally different appreciation for theater when you can see it from this side.”

4. Do you feel pressure about directing this widely known musical?

“Yes, I definitely do and I could have been one of those directors that says ‘No, I want to take this in a different direction’ and do my own thing with it. The problem with that is I know the patrons we get here at the Center are going to expect to see their favorite parts that were in the movie. If I started messing with things and changing things, I don’t know that they would appreciate that. The movie itself – the choreography – I just wanted to do it justice because it is such a phenomenal film.”

5. Tell me more about the choreography.

The cast of Singin' in the Rain.

The cast of Singin’ in the Rain.

“Choreographing the show has been very difficult. I’ve been trying to stick as closely as possible to the movie. We’ve done a great job with it but it has been a real challenge to try to make it look how people expect it to be. I want it to be as close of a representation to the original choreography as possible. I keep going back to the film and slowing down the footage to see it step-by-step and get down their exact footwork, especially in the tap numbers. It is nerve-racking getting something from your mind onto the stage because it might look completely different. Luckily, it has worked out really well.”

6. How was the audition/casting process?

“We just did our normal audition call. We posted it on our social media and told people the roles they could audition for and they just showed up. They came in and sang a couple of minutes of a song. Then, we sent them to go dance and we watched them dance. If I was interested in them for one of our lead roles, we invited them to our callback audition and we had them sing specific songs for the character that we wanted to hear them for. We also gave them some scenes and swapped them in and out, putting people in different roles. Then, we just came to our conclusion.”

7. Did you find that it was difficult to find male actors?

“Yes, especially for this show that requires the actors to sing, act, and tap dance. You throw in the tap dancing and that really messes things up. Definitely the tap dancing made the audition process more difficult. That is why I decided to teach a tap class earlier last year to build more dancers, especially male dancers, so we could cast the show.”

8. Did you find that the people in that class auditioned for Singin’ in the Rain?

“Yes, they did. Actually, my second male lead was one of my beginner tap students and he has come so far in such a short amount of time. I am really excited to have him part of the show. He is even learning more from being in the show and he’s just blowing it out of the water.”

9. How are you planning on making it rain at Osceola Arts?

“We are going to have a rain curtain in front of the stage before the proscenium and it will rain straight down. On the stage, we are going to have sprinklers, but the majority will happen in front of the stage. Hopefully this will cause enough puddles so our male lead can splash in and have a little fun with it.”

10. Do you have any hazard concerns with the rain?

“Yes, I mean you have him dancing in metal shoes, so there’s that. Then, you have to think about the costumes and having a few extras so he can change. And then there is drying the stage off after the major lead solo tap number. Luckily, that number happens right before intermission, so we have time to dry everything off.”

11. What do you want your audience to leave thinking about the performance?

“The show overall doesn’t have a big message to it. It is a happy, feel-good kind of show. I just want them to leave knowing they have seen a quality performance that hopefully does justice to the film and makes their day a little better.”

12. What was your favorite aspect of the entire process?

“Getting to work with the cast that we’ve put together. We have a really wide range of people in this show from younger actors who are in their early teens all the way up to seasoned adult actors. It’s fun working with that range of talent and seeing how they interact and work together. Also, getting to work with old cast members as well as new ones is always exciting.”

Show times for Singin’ in the Rain are from this Friday, February 27th through Sunday, March 15th. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. One Thursday performance will take place on March 5th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are just $22 for adults, $19 for seniors and $15 for students. Groups of 15 and more receive $15 discounted tickets per person at the box office. Tickets can be purchased on line at osceolaarts.org or at the box office. For more information contact 407-846-6257.

Hope to see you this weekend!

Singin’ in the Rain Premieres This Weekend at Osceola Arts!

By: Michelle Saldivar

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Cast members from Singin’ in the Rain.

Love old, classic 1920’s Hollywood? Then we’ve got something right up your ally. Beginning Friday, February 27th, our next Broadway series show is the oh so classic, Singin’ in the Rain. Directed by Patch Panzella, this zany, light-hearted romantic comedy showcases the early days of sound film where a movie studio finds itself scrambling to salvage the career of its female chipmunk-voiced silent picture star. Adapted from the 1952 movie of the same name, we follow romantic lead Don Lockwood and Lockwood’s leading lady Lina Lamont, whose comically terrible voice is threatening to end her career as an actress in the new wave of sound pictures. As they try to keep their movie intact in its transitions into a talkie, we see them fumble with love and jealousy. With that combination, will the movie even survive? Who knows, but the biggest question of all is how Osceola Arts will make it rain indoors? Guess the only way to find out is to purchase your tickets!

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. One Thursday performance will take place on March 5th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are just $22 for adults, $19 for seniors and $15 for students. Groups of 15 and more receive $15 discounted tickets per person at the box office. Tickets can be purchased on line at osceolaarts.org or at the box office. For more information contact 407-846-6257.

Also, keep an eye out for our feature blog interview with Singin’ in the Rain director Patch Panzella that will be up Thursday right here! Hope to see you this weekend!

Osceola Businesses Provide Artistic Opportunities to Disadvantaged Youth

By: Michelle Saldivar

DSC05346Here at Osceola Arts, we want to make sure that we reach all age groups. Recently, we were able to partner up with Tupperware Brands and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, to launch a new initiative to introduce young people to the arts. Thanks to a sponsorship from Tupperware Brands, Osceola Arts will be providing hundreds of complementary tickets to our productions and events to disadvantaged youth throughout Osceola county. Both Tupperware and we believe that it is of utmost importance to bring the arts to all children, especially those who have not had exposure to it. Our Executive Director Brandon Arrington stated, “It is disheartening to learn how many of these kids have never been in a theater or a museum. Our goal for ????????this program is to bring the Arts to Osceola’s youth, who otherwise would not get that opportunity.” Our mission here at Osceola Arts is to promote, cultivate and foster interest and participation in the arts by providing affordable and accessible programs that encourage artistic expression in the diverse community we serve, thus this project is very dear to us and we are excited to give children a new way to express themselves.

Osceola Arts E-Magazine Live Now!

By: Michelle Saldivar

Hate wasting paper? More of an electronic person? Save paper and still stay up-to-date with all things Osceola Arts with our new E-Magazine! We have our Spring 2015 Events Guide up right now for your viewing pleasure. It gives you more details on our upcoming events, so you won’t have to suffer through another dull weekend.

It has a little bit for everyone! Whether it be:cover-page-GREEN

  • Broadway Series
  • Classes and Workshops
  • Art Shows/Exhibits
  • Concerts
  • Youth Theater
  • Stage Left Studio Series
  • Art Show Entry Applications
  • Summer Camps
  • Links to Purchase Tickets

We have you covered on all the details you need to know. Feel free to browse at http://www.joomag.com/magazine/2015-spring-events-guide/0862776001422918496?short. See you soon at Osceola Arts!

Klimt through Modern Eyes

A Blog Feature on St. Cloud High School Artists

By: Michelle Saldivar

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When you examine the lives of the most famous artists, a common theme that lies in their stories is that they began their craft at a young age. With time, their skills took on a personality of their own, and thus an iconic artist was born. In our own backyard, artists of all kinds are being molded. Our very own St. Cloud high school has students who have begun to explore the gifts that lie at their fingertips.

After only one semester of arriving at St. Cloud high school, art teacher, Joela Lowe, has impacted the lives of young artists there. She has unveiled different artists, styles, and techniques for these students to incorporate in their artistic arsenal and motivated them to push beyond the walls of limitations set for artists. As Lowe says, “In life, you will always find an excuse to not do something”. This was something she was not going to let her students fall victim to.

Lowe’s latest challenge for these students was to take on the late 1800s Austrian artist Gustav Klimt using mixed media, such are acrylic, ink, and digitally produced arrangements. Klimt is famously known as a symbolic painter with a flair for the erotic and the extravagant. His pieces were ornamental and abstract, with what was considered modern for his time. With a century separating Klimt and our young artists, Lowe knew that Klimt’s style was timeless and could inspire her students to create brilliance.

With such a task in hand, I interviewed the students to see what their experience was like. Taking great inspiration from Klimt’s The Kiss, students like 9th grader Elizabeth Perry, Gillian Gomer, and 12th grader Natalie Estrada were able to understand Klimt, even with no previous knowledge of his work. Gomer stated, “Before I started this project, I had never heard of Klimt. When I was shown various pictures of his famous work, I thought it would be really cool to research him more and do my own take on his portrait style”. Estrada shared a similar sentiment.

Joining this ensemble of talented artists is 8th grader, Mackenzie Kauffman. She created a Klimt digital art piece inspired by her favorite book and play, Les Miserable. Elaborating on her work, she told me, “I noticed that Klimt didn’t draw clothes, but rather he [used abstract] shapes. The shape of clothes imply that they are there [and] because of this, I used circle and square patterns in place of clothes”.

Another artist, Julie Sanchez, stated, “What inspired me was how challenging it looked, as well as the use of gold he used in his paintings”. Gold is a staple in Klimt’s work and is a part of what attracts art enthusiasts to his paintings. A few of the artists drew from this aspect of Klimt and incorporated it into their pieces, such as 12th grader Jose Martinez, 11th grader Megan Literal, and 10th grader Morgan Johnston.

As a supporter of young talent, Osceola Arts has invited these 23 St. Cloud students to have their Klimt-inspired art pieces on display until February 15th, with a free reception open to the public on Saturday, February 7th at 1 PM. Feel free to support these young artists yourself and pay their work a visit.

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