Serving the community since 1922

Theater group has community singing its praises

The Shafter Young Adult Theater entertained a full house over the weekend with three performances of the classic "Singing in the Rain." The play was directed by Mayor Chad Givens and starred a number of SYAT veterans that were up to the challenge of the putting on such a technical production.

There were a number of dance routines, including contemporary, ballroom and tap. There were also some laughs, thanks to the performances of Leyna Figueroa, who played Cosmo, and Jayna Pierucci, who played Lina Lambert.

The story revolves around the end of the silent film era, with stars Don Lockwood and Lambert at the top of their game. But, with the emergence of talking pictures, the movie studio faces a challenge of putting on a talking picture with a leading lady who can't sing, or even talk well enough to play a leading part. Enter Kathy Seldon, played by Megan Bloemhof, who is no stranger to the SYAT stage. The studio decides to use Seldon to sing and do a voiceover for the beautiful but audio-challenged Lambert. What ensues is a musical comedy that has about everything – singing, dancing, laughs, love and a lot of entertainment.

According to Givens, it is probably the most challenging production that the group has taken on. "With the dancing, singing, and the technical part of the production, it is our most ambitious."

Without having the luxury of having rain on the stage, the title number was performed with the rain projected on a backdrop.

Joining the veterans was newcomer Matt Cordova. Normally seen on the football field as part of the champion Shafter Generals football team, Cordova showed his versatility with a performance that belied his inexperience, as director Roscoe Dexter. Josh Cooley was great as studio head RF Simpson, who makes the decision to put the plan into motion.

Pierucci was hilarious as Lambert, and in the lead role, Luke Kratt was a perfect mix of movie star and regular Joe who just wants to meet someone and fall in love. Kratt has over 10 years of experience at Ford Theater, and the Ovation and Star Theaters in Bakersfield, in productions such as Tuck Everlasting, Elf and Newsies.

The orchestra, led by David Bloemhof, provided a solid foundation for the production. Meg Wise, Cris Starrh, Ben Wilson and Randy Toews were just a few of the musicians that made up the ensemble.

The Shafter Young Adult Theater has been performing shows for a few years. It was begun by Starrh, wishing to give actors who were aging out of the Shafter Children's Theater an outlet for their talents. That idea has grown into a group that not only entertains audiences every year, but also helps those who want to pursue their passion of acting.


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