Simi Valley, California - The West Coast installment of the Republican presidential debates will open with an elaborate Hollywood musical production number, featuring all eight candidates.
The unusual format was developed by NBC News, which is airing as well as sponsoring the event.
"These debates hardly move the needle on the ratings meter," a network spokesman said. "So we decided to throw a little 'So You Think You Can Dance' vibe into the mix."
All eight candidates who are scheduled to participate in the debate will be required to strut their stuff in the song and dance number.
"Singing in the Rain" from the musical with the same name has been chosen as the opening song. Each candidate will be dressed in a trench coat and fedora, handed an umbrella, and thrust into the Gene Kelly role.
"Think of it, eight Gene Kellys slipping and sliding around the stage," the spokesman said. "America is in for a memorable moment in its political history."
The participants will not be required to sing, but rather will lip-synch to the Gene Kelly version of the song.
"We want to see how well they react when someone puts words in their mouths," said Bucky Wallenberg, Executive Director of the Special-Interest Group To Promote Special Interest Groups. "That talent is very important to us."
The candidates' dancing abilities apparently will be scrutinized as well. "This is a good test of how well they stay in line," noted a Republican Party spokesperson.
The Gene Kelly Estate vehemently protested against the use of the song and the persona of Gene Kelly in a written statement: "Mr. Kelly was a master of the kick turn, but this will have him spinning in his grave."