I attended the opening night of Singin’ In The Rain last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it - the music, the dancing, singing and acting, the stage, all of it, evidenced by the whoops, the cheers and the standing ovation of a fervently appreciative audience at the end of the show. The original 1952 film, Singin’ In The Rain with the four principal roles and immortalised by Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Jean Hagen came to life at the Sydney Lyric Theatre at The Star in Sydney last night. The original film is perfect for a stage musical. It has it all – the catchy numbers, extended dance sequences and the iconic branded moments when Gene Kelly splashes in puddles and tap dances in rain, whilst twirling his umbrella, deliriously happy and in his joyous moment.
The musical is directed by Jonathan Church with Olivier Award nominated choreography by Andrew Wright. Singin’ In the Rain shown last night is a faithful homage to the original film, which was one of the challenges one of the Australian casts and actress, Erika Heynatz said to me during the media previews, in playing her role as Don Lockwood’s vapid leading lady, Lina Lamont.
I can’t remember seeing a musical in Australia where it had the ‘Triple Threat’ of singing, acting and dancing consistently throughout the show, which makes this musical a standout from the sheer physicality of performing all three skills at the same time by the cast. Grant Almirall told me during the media preview that the sheer physicality throughout the show without injury is the most challenging aspect.
This musical has already garnered 3 Helpmann Award nominations including Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Jack Chambers and Best Female in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Erika Heynatz in addition to Best Choreography in a Musical. These are well deserved nominations and I wouldn’t be surprise if the trophies were awarded to them all.
The musical is a classic example of what the combination of good story telling, direction and choreography can create. The story is a simple one and is about a movie star called Don Lockwood (Grant Almirall) who stars in silent movies alongside his leading lady, Lina Lamont who has a deeply accented voice that is best heard in silent movies. The stars have to suddenly adapt when Hollywood switches over to talking pictures but the problem is Lina’s voice sounds like The Chipmunks who grew up in the streets of New York. Cosmo Brown, Don’s sidekick accurately describes: “She can’t sing, she can’t act, she can’t dance — a real triple threat.” This is where Kathy Selden, an aspiring stage actress (played by Gretel Scarlett) comes to the rescue and who meets Don by accident has he flees from his mobbing fans. Cosmo and Don comes up with the idea of transforming their dud silent movie “The Dueling Cavalier” into a musical, “The Dancing Cavalier,” dubbing Lina’s voice with Kathy’s. I won’t spoil how it ends but you probably can work it out.
There were quite a few comical moments and my favorites included the scene where a speech trainer tries to guide Lina to say “can’t” with a poshy rounded “a” vowel instead of her high pitched sounding “a”. One of the brilliant and hilarious scenes is where Don and Cosmo perform “Moses Supposes” where a speech trainer guides Don through various tongue twisters rolling his tongue for consonants of words and Cosmo mocking the speech trainer. Jack Chambers played this scene so naturally well. During media previews he told me one of his challenges was being funny because after you do the scenes a couple of times in rehearsals in front of family and friends they are not laughing so it is difficult to know whether he is actually funny. I can assure you Jack had us all in stitches and I loved how he played the role as Cosmo Brown. One of the standout performers I think.
The other scenes that had me rolling were the film clips that show us the over-acted pantomime of Don and Lina’s silent movies and then when the director tries to synchronise unsuccessfully sound over the acting. You can hear the pearls around Lina shuffle, her heart beat, the effects of not getting the sound timing right with the acting. These scenes were so funny and had the audience roaring with laughter.
And of course the famous rain scene where Don Lockwood sings “Singin In The Rain”. The rain scene is such an iconic scene in the film and was well delivered on stage at the Sydney Lyric Theater with 12,000 litres of recycled water pouring from 800 meatures of flexible pipe work and 9000kg water tank and a water system that creates a downpour from above as well as flooding from below the stage which Grant Almirall makes tap dancing and movement look easy drenched in water. Whilst this rain scene was iconic, it did not overshadow the other scenes where the actors played their roles superbly in delivering humour, great acting, singing and dance sequences.
Other memorable numbers include “Good Mornin’” where Gretel Scarlett’s sensational voice shines through when she plays Kathy Selden. The talented Gretel Scarlett starred in Grease, Wicked and Mamma Mia and was a finalist in 2011’s ANZ Trustees Rob Guest Endowment Award. Gretel has also released her debut album last year Hopelessly Devoted too.
I’ve put up all our photography from the media preview where certain scenes were played for us to photograph. It was such a pleasures to watch, meet the leading cast of this new splash hit musical and photograph these iconic scenes. Hope you enjoy our photography. It is so well worth watching this musical.
Tickets start from $79.40 and bookings can be made through www.singin.com.au and www.ticketmaster.com.au
See.Taste.Do attended to do stage photography at the media preview, interviewed the principal casts and also was invited to attend the opening night.