There’s three different kinds of theatre I believe – the first kind leaves you entertained, the second kind leaves a lasting impression, and the third is a mix of the two, which I find to be the raw essence of inspiration.
I’ve seen a variety of shows , and thus far none have left me more in awe, more entertained, nor left such a lingering impression, than the recently opened production of Singin’ in the Rain.
The entire time, from start to finish, all I could think was “How freaking talented are these people?!” – and I’m not just referring to the headliners, I’m referring to every facet that makes a production, a performance.
As life would have it, as I was admiring the detail of Kathy Selden’s [i.e Gretel Scarlett’s] frock – the way it fitted her character so well, with a refined, yet innocent elegance – I discovered I was seated next to the brother of the costume designer. Upon discussion, I realised just how invested she was, a factor deeply reflected throughout the show. The costumes are divine, but that’s said to mean they complement each character so incredibly well. I appreciated the relaxed distinction that enveloped Cosmo Brown (played by Jack Chambers), the archetypal handsomeness which carried Don Lockwood (Grant Almirall) and the vintage ostentation which made Lina Lamont (Erika Heynatz).
As expected, the orchestra was in delightful form, (under Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed), however there were many modern day tech features which further enhanced our experience. There was a scene where the [secretly] ill-talented, yet media-famous, actress Lina Lamont attempts to act into a microphone, as the story follows the beginning of spoken audio in cinema. The audience is left in uproarious laughter as Lina’s attempts to follow instruction fail miserably, with her voice teetering off into silence whenever she misses the microphone’s position. Forward to another scene at the premiere of Lamont’s new movie, which experiences technical difficulties, as it swaps her voice for another. As the audio glitches continue, the swap in voices leaves Lamont with a male voice that seems to exude sexual innuendo. [Cue all the adults and children laughing, for two very different reasons].
Gretel Scarlett plays Kathy Selden with wonderful poise and incredible talent, her singing no doubt a feast for audiences. In the show, her voice is used as the lip-synch double for Lina Lamont, and complimented by their surroundings, you can’t help but immerse yourself in the talent on display.
Grant Almirall delights as the confident, handsome and surprisingly down to earth Don Lockwood – and can I just say, “Boy, did he work hard to earn his keep”. Almirall is clearly focused and determined through his performance, with the level of precision in his singing, acting, and demanding dance routines, highlighted from start to finish. His rendition of ‘Singin in the Rain’ under that renowned lamp post, left me and my audience companions sharing in the happiness he so effortlessly seemed to display.
Of note also, is Jack Chambers (playing Cosmo Brown) who makes comic acting look so easy, and complex dance moves look incredibly seamless – His perfect dance precision is so clearly explained when recalling that he won 2008’s ‘So You Think You Can Dance’.
The icing on the cake, in this feast of incredible talent, is the performance of Erika Heynatz, as Lina Lamont. You believe in her awful singing skill set, you believe in her ability to speak with such shrill high-pitched tones, and you believe in her ostentatious presentation, that you forget the actress herself, is so very different in real life. That’s the mark of true acting, when your own self is shadowed completely by the character portrayed.
The final commendation of talent goes to the the set designers and behind-the-scenes staff, specifically those titled the ‘Rain-Makers’. As many know, this show is even more entertaining given the live action waterworks that rain on stage when cast truly do, sing in the rain. 12,000L of recycled water are used, with the water works pouring down for two songs. Front section audiences are given waterproof ponchos, because you definitely do get wet from their dancing splashes. [It’s a joy, really].
So yes, there’s so much talent displayed – and you can’t help but feel inspired by the people in every category who have given so much of themselves, to perfect their craft to this degree.
I left internally thanking them for their hard work, reminding myself to push just as hard.
It was a sheer delight to witness, and I could have happily expressed it by singin’ in the rain afterwards.