This past weekend we went to a local theater’s production of Singin’ in the Rain, which is by far my favorite musical. And, truth be told, it is my favorite musical because Gene Kelly is hot. OK, it is not just that he is hot, he is also massively talented. He is the so-called triple threat, he acts, dances and sings. Well, his singing isn’t great but I wouldn’t mind if he sang to me. Anyway going into the show in my heart, no matter how great a dancer, how wonderful a singer and how attractive whoever played Don Lockwood was he could never attain the heights of Gene Kelly. And I was right. The guy who played Don Lockwood looked a lot like Edward Norton, kind of tall and thin. The dance numbers, like Moses Supposes, were scaled down. Despite this, the show was pretty enjoyable.
During the show my partner in crime made a comment that the actor didn’t look like Gene Kelly because Gene Kelly was “pudgy” (likely a snapshot in his head from Xanadu – worst movie ever). I took total offense to that. Back when I first saw Singin’ in the Rain, I had borrowed the VCR tape from the library in Virginia. In my mind Gene Kelly looked like Fred Astaire, they were the same person. Long lean and lanky, not my type. But when I watched it, Gene Kelly was more like an athlete, a gymnast. I could totally see him in a singlet doing the pommel horse in the Olympics. I was totally hooked. Since then I’ve seen just about every Gene Kelly movie including Summer Stock (show in a barn with Judy Garland), On the Town (sailors taking over NY with Frank Sinatra) & Anchors Aweigh (featuring an opera number sang in a Mexican restaurant – definitely fast forward through this part).
Some of these movies are a hit and some not so good. Once I became obsessed with Gene Kelly I bought books and even found a CD of movie songs from his films. One of the things I remember really liking about his story is that he wasn’t discovered till he was in his mid-thirties. I love that. It makes me feel like it’s not too late. Not too late to change. Make a new direction. Do something different. Find your real self. Just by chance, while in NY, I picked up Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked this Way Comes and imagine my surprise when I saw that the book is dedicated to Gene Kelly. I was intrigued, interested and wanted to know more. Apparently Mr. Bradbury offered a short story (which the novel was based on) for Mr. Kelly to produce. Mr. Kelly was unable to obtain funding and the deal fell through. To me it was a sign.
Mr. Kelly’s 100th birthday would have been on August 23rd. Enough time to gather up some Gene Kelly movies to celebrate. To celebrate a man who brought dancing to the “common man” in regular clothes and common settings instead of the top hat and tails of the time. Time to reflect on life. To consider that change is never too late. And sometimes we are late bloomers. And that’s OK. We just need to go for it.