St. Ambrose Academy presents Singin’ in the Rain Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Laura Karlen, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Mar. 12, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

SAA Singin' in the Rain
St. Ambrose Academy in Madison students John Marsland and Catherine Gernetzke run through a scene that would later be filmed at the State Capitol in Madison for Singin’ in the Rain while Musical Director Angela Hineline looks on. (Contributed photo)

MADISON -- Producer Diane Marsland and Director Angela Hineline have earned reputations for making magic with St. Ambrose Academy's musical productions by drawing greatness out of their student actors -- nearly 40 percent of the entire student body -- through a strong work ethic and an infectious enthusiasm.

Packed house crowds have roared with laughter and wiped away wistful tears, entirely delighted.

However, this year's Singin' in the Rain centers on 1920's Hollywood stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont as silent films give way to "talkies."

Essential to the musical are Hollywood sets for the footage of a silent film, a "talkie" flop, and a musical rewrite.

How could this be re-produced onstage by the St. Ambrose Academy (SAA) cast?

Marsland and Hineline needed to get creative.

Hollywood at the Capitol: Making films with Backflip

"We assumed we would have to put these movies together ourselves since we didn't have the budget to hire professionals," said Marsland.

She sought advice from Backflip, a film and creative marketing firm and a long-time SAA business sponsor.

Marsland was thrilled when co-owner Ryan Freng offered Backflip's services to do the filming and editing.

Now, she could plan on professional films with a process that would also be an educational experience for the students.

Go behind-the-scenes at the SAA Dinner Theater
March 26 at 4:30 to 9 p.m. featuring a wine and cheese reception, catered dinner, short behind-the-scenes program with Angela Hineline and Jeff Bell, and tickets to the preview performance.
Visit for information and to purchase tickets.
Singin’ in the Rain performance dates
March 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and March 29 at 2 p.m.
Location: Verona Area High School Performing Arts Center, 300 Richard St, Verona.
Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

But, without a Hollywood set, where would Marsland and Hineline find a castle? Then, the perfect setting came to them: the stunning Madison State Capitol.

Marsland arranged the permit with the Capitol police, and Backflip's Ryan Freng, Jeff Bell, and Luke Kolarsky set up their equipment in the rotunda.

"It felt like we were on a real movie set!" recalled freshman Catherine Gernetzke, who plays "the ultimate diva," Lina Lamont.

She also recalled "The huge amount of effort that goes into even a 30-second film."

Jeff Bell recalled how fun it was to share his love of moviemaking with the students and what the effects of their efforts will be: "Getting all these little details just right will make for a seamless -- and really fun -- experience for audiences. I personally had a lot of fun on this project, and I was impressed by the preparation and just the joy that the students brought to the shoot."

Lip-synching at Relevant Radio

Although the Capitol lent itself well to filming, important sound recordings would be impossible. Marsland looked for more solutions: "Of course, we thought of [SAA parent] Tim Heiney at Relevant Radio."

Heiney graciously welcomed students into the recording studio. "I recorded mostly speaking to be used during the musical itself but also some vocals for one of the silent pictures," explained sophomore Andrew Glanville.

Glanville plays a swashbuckling villain in a silent film, among other roles.

Student actors also made recordings necessary for lip-synching in movie scenes.

These might have been the first lip-synching recordings at Relevant Radio.

Grab your umbrella?!

In the title number, Don Lockwood tap dances in the rain.

Part of the fun of the show would be bringing that element to the stage.

But, how?

Marsland turned to set lead and SAA parent, Rick Mills.

With a little research and imagination, Mills formed a plan. So audiences, count on rain.

Seventh grade tap dancer Gabby McDougall can't wait for opening night: "I am looking forward to putting everything all together and sharing our work on the stage with the audience."

Without a doubt, the ingenuity and hard work of the SAA production team are sure to leave audiences singing and dancing long after the curtain call.

Grab an umbrella, and we'll see you there!

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