“It’s bittersweet,” senior Jesse Hixson said, from where he sat at a table opposite his best friend and co-star, senior Jon Andrew. “This is our last musical together and we’ve been working our way up, and now we’re finally performing lead roles together.”
Hixson and Andrew, who play Cosmo Brown and Don Lockwood respectively in the Homecoming production of “Singin’ in the Rain,” have been friends and roommates since their sophomore year of college, according to Hixson. “Singin’ in the Rain” is their fourth and final college performance together.
“In the show, Don goes through this roller coaster of emotion where he doubts himself, and his world gets turned upside down, and yet Cosmo is there through all of it,” Andrew said. “I feel like (Hixson) is the same way. He’s loyal, and he’s constant.”
Hixson agreed that their roles in “Singin’ in the Rain” are appropriate in relation to their off-stage friendship.
“Jon is the serious, talented one, and I’m the goofball,” Hixson said.
The other principal roles in the show are Kathy Seldon, played by senior Jessie Pendergraft, and Lina Lamont, played by junior Penny Turpin.
Pendergraft, who transferred to Harding as junior, said she was overwhelmed when she first found out she had been cast as Kathy.
“I started crying,” Pendergraft said. “I just kept thinking to myself, ‘These people don’t know me, I’m a transfer.’ It was a very surreal moment for me.”
Pendergraft said that working with Hixson and Andrew has been the highlight of this production for her.
“They’re hilarious,” Pendergraft said. “From the the moment we all set foot on stage together, I knew that it was going to be magical.”
Turpin, who has been in three previous Harding musicals, said it has been both fun and challenging to play such an annoying, confident character.
“The thing about Lina is that she is a movie star, and she just oozes confidence,” Turpin said. “I am not like that. So it has been hard for me to grasp the physicality of (the role), especially when I have to go from flannels and boots to sequins and heels.”
Regarding all four performers, Hixson said that he has been delighted with the chemistry they have all found on stage.
“Along with an incredibly talented and enthusiastic ensemble, I think the four of us bring an energy and ease to the stage that’s going to make this year’s show one you won’t want to miss,” Hixson said.