CenterStage Geelong's cast and artistic team discuss their experiences in anticipation of their 2012 production season of one the greatest ever musical comedies.
When David Greenwood founded CenterStage Geelong in 2010, the 22 year-old young business person of the year (2007) says that his aim was to utilize the talents of locals and Melbournians to grow “a new essence of theatre in Geelong”. With the support from 45 local and interstate sponsors, the theatre group opened its curtains for the first time in 2011 with their successful production season of A Chorus Line, allowing them to increase their donations to Cancer Council Victoria and Surf Life Saving Redevelopment Program up to $21,000 over the past two years.
When considering what to do for their 2012 production, Singin' in the Rain seemed like a natural choice, with its colourful setting, energetic characters and memorable score as well as this year marking the 60th anniversary of the much critically acclaimed 1952 film, of which the stage musical is a direct adaptation. Since 2000 the American Film Institute has continually recognised the film in its 'Top 100 Lists', crediting it as the #1 greatest movie musical of all time, the 5th greatest American film in the past 100 years, the 16th funniest American movie, and for having the 3rd greatest song ever included in the film, the musical number, “Singing in The Rain”.
“SITR is just a classic Hollywood musical, with a great script, wonderful characters and catchy songs. What’s not to like? It’s a show written to purely entertain.” says Director Shaun Kingma, whose dozens of theatre credits, as a director and performer, have made him one of the most awarded artists in the Victorian theatre scene, with 2 lyrebird awards, 4 guild awards and 10 guild nominations under his belt.
Set in the 1920s, Singin' in The Rain's fascinating setting provides a comedic incite into Monumental Studios, a fictional silent film studio and their two leading performers: Don Lockwood, a charming and talented actor, singer and dancer; and Lina Lamont, his somewhat obnoxious, pretentious and spoiled co-star who despite not being in a real relationship with Don, believes the gossip magazines' claims that the two are lovers.
When the first ever talking picture, the Jazz Singer, becomes a smash hit, Monumental Studios finds itself forced to adapt by adding sound and dialogue into their films. With the creation of a Lockwood and Lamont “talkie” becoming inevitable, the studio's efforts are burdened largely by Lina's shrill, cringe-worthy voice that contrasts greatly to her hot physique – a situation that could shatter her career and bring Lockwood Lamont pictures and Monumental Studio to ruins. To avoid such a fate, Don works alongside his best friend and energetic pianist, Cosmo Brown, and the stern yet supportive studio CEO, R.F Simpson, to replace Lina's voice in the movies with that of a young aspiring actress, Kathy Selden.
With a large diverse cast of 46 performers, some as young as 7 years old and coming from a range of backgrounds and experiences, Shaun says that he hopes to keep CenterStage Geelong's version of the show as individual as possible, while still staying true to the classic 1952 movie – a task that has brought plenty of challenges, including creating a downpour of rain on stage (“I am hoping the audience won’t get wet… I would like to contain the water to the stage”, he jokes.)
“It’s a fairly dance orientated show – so the demands on the cast, especially the principles are quite large”, says Shaun. “That said, there are numerous technical challenges in the show ranging from the movie sequences, the copious amount of scenes to the rain itself”.
Portraying Don Lockwood is Chaise Rossiello who says that he jumped at the opportunity to tap dance on a stage with pouring rain, as well as having a great appreciation for the age of black and white films, fedoras, vintage cars, and crooners as depicted in Singin' in The Rain.
“I love the era since I was young,” he says. “I have always thought I was born into the wrong time. I love everything about the 1920’so-40’s especially the music”.
A tradesman by day, Chaise has been singing and dancing since the age of 5 years old and has gone on to compete in Rock Eisteddfods and competitions statewide. His performance credits over the years include performing alongside big names including Dame Edna, Jamilia, Rhonda Birchmore as well as touring the UK and Europe with Dein Perry’s Tapdogs back in 2007-2009. Most recently he performed with Rolling Entertainment – a finalist on Australia’s Got Talent.
Chaise describes Don Lockwood as “a charming crooner that has a way with the ladies”, whose quick thinking, intelligence and aggression would suit an ace attorney. “He had a tough journey to where he is in his life which makes him pretty grounded, although he can have his own diva moments from time to time, ” says Chaise.
Actress Nadia Gianinotti says that for as long as she can remember Singin' in the Rain has been one of her favourite movies and Lina Lamont has been #1 on her ‘bucket list’ of roles to play, impersonating her iconic voice and phrases, such as “I caaaaaant staaaand him”, since she was a kid. “I couldn’t tell you what initially drew me to liking her (probably the voice) but ever since I was little I have been ‘impersonating’ her, mostly for the entertainment of family and friends – and of course myself!” says Nadia. “So I have been waiting for a while for this show to come up and for the chance to play this part! She just entertains me beyond words”.
With around 12 years of theatre experience Nadia's performed in a versatile range of roles, including 'Bad Idea Bear/Ensemble' in Avenue Q,, 'Rosalia' in West Side Story,, and 'Rhonda/Co-Choreographer' in the World Premier of Grease 2 – Live in Concert.
Nadia notes that though portraying the heavy-dialogue role of Lina contrasts from her previous dance-oriented roles, she has enjoyed in “every possible way” putting her own twist on the classic antagonist, allowing her to be angry, sulky, “kick up a fuss and throw so many tantrums without apology”. “There’s a significant part of me that has enjoyed being the annoying character that everyone dislikes, and I quite like playing the conniving side of her too. It’s just a whole lot of fun!” she says.
With the two-year old company already making great strides in providing a platform for performers in Geelong and Melbourne to develop their skills treading the boards, both Chaise and Nadia agree that their experience with CenterStage Geelong has been a good one.
“They are a very welcoming and family inspired company,” says Nadia. “They have been incredibly supportive and are so very generous in their time and efforts and much more. And the fact that profits are donated to charity just makes the experience all the more enriching for me. CenterStage is a really wonderful company to be a part of”.
“They really think about the little guys as well as the leads, they leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding the best way to do something” adds Chaise.
According to Shaun, Singin' in the Rain may be light on offering profound morals and lessons, but it easily succeeds in providing an enjoyable night at the threatre. “I suppose you could go deep into it and could say it’s about not judging someone by their looks, inner beauty etc etc,” he says. “For me, it’s just a fun, entertaining show with a great script, songs and dance numbers.”
Nadia as well promises a memorable night with plenty of laughs. “I know it’s a hike for alot of TP people, but you should all make the trip down to Geelong to see our show!” she says. “I get hit in the face with a cake, people!!! That should be motivation in itself!!!”
Singin' in the Rain will be performed at Geelong Performance Arts Centre from the 14th to the 21st of July. To book your tickets visit http://www.gpac.org.au/Shows/All/Singin_In_The_Rain or phone 03 5225 1200
Sat 14 Jul 2012 02:00 PM
Sat 14 Jul 2012 07:30 PM
Sun 15 Jul 2012 05:00 PM
Thu 19 Jul 2012 07:30 PM
Fri 20 Jul 2012 07:30 PM
Sat 21 Jul 2012 02:00 PM
Sat 21 Jul 2012 07:30 PM
Producer: David Greenwood & Elise Dahl
Direction : Shaun Kingma
Musical Direction: Mark Elshout
Choreography: Michelle McDowall
Vocal Direction: Anita Barlow Burman
Production Assistant: Scott Bradley