After sell-out seasons in the UK, the much loved Singin’ in the Rain is coming to our theatres shortly. Just eleven days into rehearsals, the media were invited along to see how things are going.
The final song, Singin’ in the Rain, was performed with the whole cast three times, with feedback given throughout by associate choreographer, Jaye Elster.
“It has to look easy, and that’s part of what’s so exciting as you watch it. You watch these characters with relationships on top of all of the footwork that’s happening, it looks effortless,” Elster said.
“I never doubted that I was going to be impressed by what they can do physically, and the fact that they do pick things up quickly, it leaves more time for exploration, more time to see what they can bring to our production and make the right choices for them, so that keeps it more alive.”
The Australian cast features favourites Adam Garcia as Don Lockwood, Jack Chambers as Cosmo Brown, Gretel Scarlett as Kathy Selden and Erika Heynatz as Lina Lamont. Theatre People had a chance to chat to them after their performance.
Star of stage, film and television, Adam Garcia heads up the Singin’ in the Rain cast. His tap dancing experience has come in handy.
“As a dancer, it’s one of the most challenging roles. I mean, there’s seven or eight different dance numbers and physically it’s very tough,” he said.
The original movie had a large impact on Garcia’s journey into dancing.
“Gene Kelly is one of my idols, he’s one of the reasons I wanted to be a dancer and I always loved his style. He really was so athletic and so masculine. Knowing and loving that movie, I saw it in London with Adam Cooper who is a spectacular dancer, actor and singer and I remember going ‘oh, man I’d love to play that role!” Garcia said.
“I’m going to have an endorphin rush every night just getting through it, which is brilliant.”
So why did Heynatz, Scarlett and Chambers want to be involved in the show?
“The opportunity to make a lot of noise very badly. They’re putting me through the paces in terms of creating a really abrasive sound, really high pitched, really rough, and it’s that thing of always trying to look really composed and really gorgeous, but making the complete opposite in terms of sound,” Heynatz said.
For Scarlett, she couldn’t say no.
“I think this particular show has always been in the back of our minds, so when the brief came out, I couldn’t stop looking at it. I would be awake at 3am in the morning thinking about the brief,” she said.
But for Chambers, it was more sentimental. Singin’ in the Rain was his first ever musical he performed in as a child.
“I did an amateur theatre production in Brisbane, and I played young Cosmo Brown and it’s the reason that I pursue musical theatre, ever since that moment. It’s a really wonderful full circle that I’ve taken to get here,” he said.
“What is really beautiful about Singin’ in the Rain, is it’s just joyous and you just take it for how entertaining and funny and joyful and charming the show is.”
The full cast is impressive together, with a beautiful blended sound and slick choreography already.
“Everyone’s got at least probably five shows on their resume already, so they know what to expect,” Scarlett said.
Associate Director Cameron Wenn said one of the great things about the show is that it is a “true ensemble show”.
“Every single ensemble member has their own story going on, has their own character, has their own personality,” Wenn said.
This production features 12,000 litres of recycled water, giving the front three rows of the stalls a bit of a wetter experience than others in ‘The Splash Zone’ with special ponchos provided. The production uses over 800 metres of flexible pipe work, a 9000kg water tank and a water system that creates a downpour from above as well as flooding the stage. It’s a big process getting all of that into a theatre.
“We’ve got it down to a fine art now, but obviously still that starts as we’re finishing up rehearsals here. When we arrive, it’s about getting the cast safe and making sure that they get a chance to feel what it’s like before we ask them to do the number you just saw here in 3-inch water,” Wenn said.
All of the water takes getting used to, and there are a few slips to begin with.
“They’ve slightly cushioned me by saying that every one of the leads falls over at some point, all of them. So it’s like, don’t worry about it, but also, you’re going to fall over,” Garcia said.
But past-cast member now associate choreographer Jaye Elster said it’s “magical”.
“The first time you do it, you don’t care, it’s just magical, you want to stay there forever. And then you realise you need to work out how to stay standing. You need to work out the logistics of dancing in rain with a heavy umbrella but it all happens,” Elster said.
Showing just how close the cast is already, Heynatz knew the water wouldn’t be an issue for Garcia.
“I think you’ll find that Adam is that kind of dancer that if he’s going to fall, he’s going to turn it into a move,” Heynatz said.
Asked what makes Singin’ in the Rain so adored and timeless, Heynatz put it down to a few key things.
“The comedy routines are as memorable as the dance routines. The romance is beautiful. And the pairings I think – that male comedic partnering – is electric on stage and on screen,” she said.
So why does Adam Garcia think audiences will enjoy Singin’ in the Rain?
“It lifts you. When you hear the music, there’s nothing really downbeat about this musical. It’s there to create joy, which I think is why everyone can love it.”
Singin’ in the Rain opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre on Saturday, 7 May 2016.
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Dates: From Saturday, 7 May 2016
Performance schedule: Tuesday 7pm
Wednesday 1pm & 7.30pm
Saturday 2pm & 7.30pm
Please note there is no matinee on Saturday 7 May or Wednesday 11 May and performance times on Saturday 14 May are 1.30pm and 7pm
Prices: From $69.90*
Groups 10+ SAVE! Call 1300 364 001 or email [email protected]
*Additional fees may apply. Subject to availability. Prices and performance schedule subject to change.
Photo credit: Dani Rothwell