Wife of late Gene Kelly to introduce RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s Singin’ in the Rain screenings

Patricia Ward Kelly, wife of the late screen legend Gene Kelly, will introduce the RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s screenings of Singin’ in the Rain with live performance of the orchestral score. This Irish premiere takes place on Saturday 27 April at the National Concert Hall, with screenings at 3pm and 8pm. The remastered MGM classic is shown on a big screen above the stage with the original vocals and dialogue intact, while the RTÉ CO under conductor Neil Thomson plays the orchestral score underneath.

 A biographer and film historian, Patricia met Gene Kelly at the Smithsonian in 1985, when he was the host/narrator for a television special for which she was a writer. Soon after, he invited her to California to write his memoirs, a job for which she recorded his words nearly every day for over ten years, and they were together until his death in 1996. She is not only an acknowledged expert on Gene Kelly’s life and work – she is a warm and engaging speaker, whose performance on stage has been described as mesmerizing.

 Patricia’s lively, warm introduction will offer illuminating and entertaining insights into the background of one of the world’s best-loved musicals. She tells audiences, for instance, that Gene Kelly, playing Don Lockwood, always wanted Debbie Reynolds in the role of Kathy Selden, despite her inexperience as a dancer. She emphasizes his regard for Donald O’Connor (Cosmo Brown in the musical), sometimes underrated as more of a comic actor, saying Gene believed him to be the soul of the film. She tells of how Gene got around the strict censorship rules to create Cyd Charisse’s famous slit dress, and how the immortal dancing in the rain sequence was recorded when he had a temperature of 104 degrees. She also points out how the original score is one of those that was dumped by MGM and had to be re-created note by note by John Wilson, the RTÉ CO’s own Principal Guest Conductor.

 Patricia tracked down Gene Kelly’s Irish roots and obtained Irish citizenship for him before he died, of which she recalls he was terribly proud. Interestingly, she says the trail was difficult as his mother had done much to conceal his Irish background, it not being a popular heritage at that time in the US. Gene, by contrast, always acknowledged his heritage and told her stories of singing Irish rebel songs with John Kennedy in the private quarters at the White House and drinking Paddy’s whiskey with Samuel Beckett. He was, she says, very articulate about the origins of American tap dancing in Irish clog dancing and the southern black blues/jazz, and he always claimed that the Singin’ in the Rain number was ‘just a simple Irish clog dance that anyone can do’.

 Patricia serves as Trustee of The Gene Kelly Image Trust and Creative Director of Gene Kelly: The Legacy, a corporation established to commemorate Kelly’s centenary worldwide. She has recorded commentary for DVDs of many of his films, is frequently called upon to introduce them at festivals, including the recent TCM Classic Film Festival, and last year she joined Oscar winner Rita Moreno in a lively conversation onstage at the Smithsonian to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain and Gene Kelly’s innovations in choreographing dance for the camera. She has presented a one-woman show about her life with Kelly, and her centennial tribute to her late husband last year played to capacity audiences at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and Lincoln Center. She lives in Los Angeles and is completing a book about her late husband.


Singin’ in the Rain
Screening with live orchestra
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
eil Thomson conductor
Introduced by Patricia Ward Kelly
Saturday 27 April, 3pm & 8pm
National Concert Hall 

For the first time in Ireland, experience one of the world’s best-loved musicals with the immortal music brought to life by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. The remastered MGM classic is shown on a big screen above the stage with the original vocals and dialogue intact, while the RTÉ CO plays the orchestral score underneath.

 The RTÉ CO has developed an enthusiastic and eclectic audience for these film screenings with live orchestra, many of those attracted by the concept into seeing an orchestra in action for the first time. This presentation of Singin’ in the Rain in Dublin comes hot on the heels of the long-awaited European premiere, which takes place in London in March.

 Singin’ in the Rain is not just a great musical, it’s a great film. It has all the ingredients to make it a classic –a brilliant script, cast and direction as well as the wonderful music and choreography. Packed with imagination, colour and affectionate wit, it is one of the ultimate feelgood film experiences.

 Choose between matinee and evening then sit back and relish routines like Good Morning and Moses Supposes, a sultry Cyd Charisse in the Broadway Melody BalletMake ’Em Laugh and an exhilarating Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. Imagine all this accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra playing full tilt – what a glorious feeling!

 Tickets: €25–€40 (conc. €23–€36)
Booking: www.rte.ie/co or www.nch.ie or 01 417 0000 (no booking fee)