Celebrating their 15th year, The Production Company's second offering for 2013 is Singin' In The Rain. The last professional production of this musical was back in 2001, so it's probably due for another season in Melbourne. The Production Company has managed to secure some of the country's leading performers including Rohan Browne, Matt Lee, Alinta Chidzey and Christie Whelan-Browne.
The Production Company is well known for its short rehearsal seasons and, despite their hectic schedule, Matt Lee and Alinta Chidzey took some time out to chat about the upcoming season at the Arts Centre. With just a matter of weeks to rehearse, Chidzey says the key to The Production Company is being fully prepared prior to rehearsals; lines and lyrics must be known before you arrive for the first rehearsal in order to be ready to learn the choreography. Once rehearsals are underway it is then important to quickly develop chemistry amongst the cast.
Chidzey is already well known to The Production Company audiences, after her role last year as Svetlana in the multi award winning production of Chess, which earned Chidzey a Green Room Award. Chidzey's other significant lead role was playing Anita in West Side Story, for which she was nominated for various awards as well as receiving the Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Performance.
Lee, who plays Cosmo Brown, shot to fame as a judge in the television series So You Think You Can Dance, receiving a Logie nomination in 2009 for the Most Popular New Talent. While Lee may have been a new talent on television he is certainly not a newcomer to musical theatre. Lee started in musical theatre at the young age of 13 and has a long list of theatre credits in both ensemble and principal roles, including Miss Saigon, We Will Rock You, The Boy From Oz, Rent, The Witches of Eastwick, Grease, Steel City and Hot Shoe Shuffle … just to name a few! But it is probably his Helpmann Award winning role as Bert in Mary Poppins that he is probably now best known to musical theatre fans. Lee toured with Mary Poppins throughout Australia and New Zealand, performing the role for two and half years. Lee was also the motion capture principal in the Oscar winning movie Happy Feet.
The musical of Singin' In The Rain was adapted from the 1952 film of the same name starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and it is this film version that is best known to audiences. Choreographed by Gene Kelly, the film features some now iconic dance routines along with some very bright and catchy songs. Lee said this production will feature some of those classic dance moments that audiences would remember from the movie, but also have a new fresh feel. Both Lee and Chidzey are choreographers with a strong dance background, and alongside another triple threat in Rohan Browne, audiences can expect some amazing dance routines.
In preparing for their roles both Lee and Chidzey watched the 1952 movie again, although both were already very familiar with it. Lee grew up watching Singin' In The Rain from a very young age and it remains one of his favourite musicals of all time. Chidzey studied two musicals at school: West Side Story and Singin' In The Rain! She also took to You Tube to watch clips of old silent movies and better understand the era in which this musical was set, as silent movies changed to “talkies.”
After her roles as Anita (West Side Story) and Svetlana (Chess,) Chidzey is relishing the opportunity to play a much brighter and happier romantic character in Kathy Selden. Chidzey has a gorgeous, effervescent smile and it will be lovely to see her shine in a much lighter role.
Both Lee and Chidzey consider Singing In The Rain is a show for the true triple threats. It is all singing and all dancing, allowing performers to show all facets of their skill set. It is also a wonderfully family-friendly musical that audiences of all ages will enjoy. While subscribers to The Production Company tend to be an older audience, hopefully the Matt Lee fans who watched So You Think You Can Dance will come along and see this new production and be introduced to one of the great classic musicals of all time.
While there won't be any actual rain (with a smaller budget and such a short season it's just not feasible) both Lee and Chidzey are very excited at the ideas being discussed to create a sense of rain during those iconic moments. Chidzey spoke passionately about the role of the performer to create a sense of rain. Having seen both Lee and Chidzey in their award winning roles, I have no doubt they will do a brilliant job.
Singin' In The Rain opens on Wednesday 21st August and plays for a strictly limited season of just seven shows.
Tickets are available at: http://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/event.aspx?id=3641