Rain is rare in Jerusalem this time of year, but when theater-goers step into the Masorti Auditorium in Arnona for Singin’ in the Rain (four remaining shows from March 22nd – March 25th), anything is possible. Just ask Eli Kaplan-Wildmann, the man responsible for both the waterworks, and for creating a light, set and sound design drenched in the Art Deco feel of Hollywood in the 1920s. And while he won’t divulge exactly how he makes that onstage thunderstorm–no spoilers here!–he’s happy to talk about how designing Singin’ in the Rain involves far more than just mimicking a movie classic.
“Singin’ in the Rain comes out of a specific aesthetic, one that reflects an historical period–Hollywood’s Golden Age– and also reflects the larger-than-life effect that Hollywood had on movie-goers around the world,” says Kaplan-Wildmann, who is co-founder of Starcatcher, an amateur theater group that has mounted some of Jerusalem’s most ambitious English-language productions in recent years. “Art Deco was the most beautiful period in design history, in my opinion, for every type of design – graphics, fashion, interiors. And being able to mount this classic while maintaining our contemporary artistic sensibility has been a real joy – and we hope it will delight the audience as well.”
A Jerusalem native who studied lighting and set design at NYU, Kaplan-Wildmann has designed for stage, opera, and corporate events, and he has worked everywhere from New York’s Lincoln Center to off-Broadway, to the Jerusalem Theater. He is also the artist behind memorable open-air displays for Jerusalem’s “Festival of Lights”, held annually in the Old City. His first love, however, is creating theater, and doing it with colleagues who are also his friends and community – therefore Starcatcher is his home base.
In 2015, Kaplan-Wildmann created a stark and startling setting for RENT, a rock musical that chronicles a group of starving artists in1990 NYC, struggling with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic.
Last year, he and his Starcatcher colleagues took on another challenge that demonstrated the power of creative lighting design to fill a black-box stage with movement and emotion: SPRING AWAKENING.
In this year’s production, Kaplan-Wildmann looks forward to showing off his lighter side.
“Singin’ in the Rain is a show that brings the magic of movies together with the fun of theater–and combines comedy, singing, dance and even on-stage original film footage,” he says. “We are using today’s high-tech tools to make a show about low tech times. I love it!”