Broadway's Tony Yazbeck Will Step Into Chicago Singin' in the Rain, Replacing Injured Sean Palmer

By Kenneth Jones
November 14, 2012

Sean Palmer, who played Prince Eric in Broadway's The Little Mermaid, is exiting the new Chicago-area revival of the musical Singin' in the Rain due to an injury. Tony Yazbeck, of Broadway's Chicago and White Christmas, will replace him in the central Gene Kelly-originated role of Don Lockwood. The new opening night is Nov. 30, rather than Nov. 15, at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.



Yazbeck will go into the production, which is now in previews, on Nov. 21. Palmer remains in the cast with a knee injury — he tore it in rehearsals, a spokesperson told Playbill.com, adding that he'll tread lightly in the dance numbers — until Nov. 18, and no performances will be canceled.

Yazbeck's Broadway credits include Billy Flynn in Chicago, Phil Davis in Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Tulsa in Gypsy starring Patti LuPone (for which he earned an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination), Al in A Chorus Line, and more.

The stage version of the 1952 M-G-M movie musical appeared on Broadway in 1985 (preceded by the 1983 London production) under the direction of Twyla Tharp, who also choreographed. The famous title number, complete with rain, was (and remains) the show's scenic centerpiece. It ran nearly a year on Broadway. The version was not an exact match of the famous film; its later stock and amateur script (like the version now playing Drury Lane) hews more closely to the original movie, which boasted songs by composer Nacio Herb Brown and lyricist Arthur Freed.

The Chicago-area revival plays to Jan. 13, 2013. 

Singin' in the Rain features one of the largest casts ever assembled on the Drury Lane stage: Jenny Guse (Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 42nd Street at Marriott Theatre and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Theatre at the Center) as Kathy Selden; Matthew Crowle (Spamalot on Broadway, the national tour of Doctor Dolittle directed by Tommy Tune) as Cosmo; and Drama Desk Award nominee Melissa Van Der Schyff (Blanche Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway) as Lina Lamont.

Bill Jenkins (chair of Ball State University's department of theatre and dance, director of Drury Lane Theatre's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) directs the production.

The musical comedy is set in 1920 Hollywood as movies are transitioning from silent to sound. Don and his shrill co-star Lina attempt to make the bumpy crossover with the help of Don's new girl, Kathy, and his best pal, Cosmo. The libretto is by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who also penned the revered screenplay.

The score includes "Make 'Em Laugh," "Moses Supposes" (by Comden, Green and Roger Edens), "All I Do Is Dream of You," "Would You?," "You Are My Lucky Star," "Good Morning" and more.

The cast also features Don Forston as R.F. Simpson, Scott Calcagno as Roscoe Dexter, Jeff Award winner John Reeger as Diction Coach, Catherine Lord as Miss Dinsmore, Jeff Award winner Renee Matthews as Dora Bailey and Cara Salerno as Lady in Green, with William Carlos Angulo, Karissa Barney, Johnson Brock, Gary Calson, Daniel Coonley, Megan Farley, Betsy Farrar, Allyson Graves, Kyle Halford, Katie Huff, Jonathan Kwock, Katie Mazzini, Willie Mellina, Alexandra Palkovic, Laura Savage, Will Skrip, Brandon Springman, Amanda Tanguay, George Andrew Wolff and Zach Zube.

Jeff Award winner Roberta Duchak is musical director. The production is choreographed by Amber Mak. The choreography for "Fit as a Fiddle," "Make 'Em Laugh," "Moses Supposes" and "Good Morning" is by Matthew Crowle. The elaborate scenery is conceived by Jeff Award-winning designer Kevin Depinet. The creative team also includes lighting designer Julie Mack, costume designer Maggie Hoffman, Jeff Award-winning sound designer Ray Nardelli and wig designer Heather Flemming.

For more information, visit drurylaneoakbrook.com.