You may have seen from posts in the past, that I'm a huge fan of Gene Kelly. His musicals uplifted me during a time when I was feeling very fed up and stressed with work and to come home to watch one of his musicals was such a relief. At the time, I needed to escape into something happy, light-hearted and beautiful, and Gene Kelly's films were that for me. So yesterday, when I want to see the one woman show Gene Kelly: The Legacy which was presented by Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene's widow, it was such a momentous and moving experience. Her show is a brilliant encapsulation of all that Gene has done in his career, and the intimate setting of Patricia Kelly presenting clips and talking about Gene's behind the scenes experiences made her portrait of him so very poignant and touching. Gene Kelly's legacy is undeniably incredible.
The show was very simple in staging, with just the big screen, Patricia's very graceful and eloquent presence, and some boxes which illustrated how much work she has had, to go through Gene's lifelong collection of belongings and memorabilia. Patricia brought with her some pretty amazing items like some of Gene's eggs - he loved to collect different sizes and shapes of eggs made of different materials because he thought an egg shape was perfect. A singed sheet music of Singing in the Rain which Gene used to notate his choreography. (It survived the fire that burned his first house down.) A white t-shirt that was cut short so that there was less fabric to tuck into trousers because Gene always wanted smooth, sleek lines in his clothes when he danced. And the green hat Gene wore in his number "The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore" from the film Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
The clips presented were so interesting to watch again with Patricia's commentary to keep in mind. Like how Gene was bothered by his dancing in "The Worry Song" because his legs were not in true balletic posture. And how innovative and difficult it was to film "Alter Ego" using techniques never before done in a film. I thought it was nice to hear the audiences reactions too, to some of the scenes since I've always watched them on my own. Something like the cigarette trick in "Nina" got a pretty good laugh. It must have been pretty gross to do, but it's a pretty nifty trick. I guess this was cool/sexy at the time?
After the show, lots of people wanted a few words and a picture with Patricia Kelly, including me, so I got to say hi, she signed my playbill and I got a pic. She was so sweet and seemed like a genuinely kind person. And sharing the life and work of Gene is an amazing job to have. She is writing his memoirs, and I hope the book will come out next year - I'm sure it will be the definitive work on Gene's life and a fascinating read.
This is the photo my Mom took with her phone. I posted the one where we are looking at the camera (from my phone) on my instagram. :) Oh yeah, and it's kinda crazy but Jeremy Piven was there too! I saw him talking to friends in the lobby, no one was freaking out, so I felt like I shouldn't either. Haha. But it was very cool.
Anyways, if you are fan of Gene Kelly, I highly recommend seeing this show! It's fun, informative, casual and poignant. A perfect tribute to Gene, and a wonderful time spent with the gracious, well spoken Patricia Kelly. I'm so glad I finally made it out to see it!