It’s one of the oldest adages of the stage, but Singin’ in the Rain’s Sydney run – which officially kicked off on Saturday night – has put “the show must go on” very much into practice. The show’s headline star, Adam Garcia, who sustained an injury during one of the final Melbourne performances, won’t be appearing in the first month of dates. So, the show has started without him, with two understudies – Grant Almirall and Rohan Browne – alternating performances as Garcia’s iconic Don Lockwood. It was Grant who graced the stage for opening night, with he and the cast delivering stunning performances in a show which is, without question, one of the most spectacular productions ever to grace the stage in Australia. Here’s seven reasons why you can’t miss it:
The first musical with a splash zone?
It’s the shot that has become pseudonymous with the 2012 West End production of Singin’ in the Rain that we’re lucky enough to be enjoying in Australia: actual, raining water used to flood the stage, creating an incredible effect visually… while ensuring the ponchos provided to those in the first few rows are worn with necessity. Whether or not this is the first musical with an actual splash zone is up for debate, but at the very least it’s going to be a rare added bonus for what is – with or without the gimmick – a technological achievement for the Australian stage.
An incredible ensemble
Lynne Ruthven has cast the show perfectly, and Jonathan Church has directed them well. Jack Chambers is a particular treat as Cosmo, and Gretel Scarlett is perfectly cast in Debbie Reynold’s iconic role of Kathy Selden. Meanwhile, Erika Heynatz – who some may know from Next Top Model – is hilarious as Lina Lamont – a character originally played by Jean Hagen, for a role that garnered her an Academy Award nomination. They all play well together on the stage, and it makes for a truly enjoyable performance. And though some may be disappointed by Garcia’s absence, there’s nothing disappointing about Grant Almirall in the role. He does a fantastic job.
Plenty of “Oh Yeah! I Know That Song!” moments
Whether you’ve seen the original 1952 film dozens of times and can quote every song and line verbatim, or you have distant memories of seeing the film as a kid (or not at all), Singin’ in the Rain is the sort of timeless film whose songs have entered pop culture in such a substantial way that the show is full of songs you may know without realising it. Of course we all know the iconic title track, but from the “Gotta Dance!” moments of “Broadway Ballet” to “You Are My Lucky Star” and of course “Make ’em Laugh”, the show is crammed full of classic tunes. Just do your best not to sing along, we didn’t come to hear YOU sing, after all.
A show within a show
As in the original film, this is a show set in the motion picture business of the late 1920s, so naturally, we’re going to be witnessing the process of making film in action. Portions of the show have thus been pre-filmed, and are presented wonderfully on a giant screen. The way they set things up here is quite wonderful, while the videos that play are often hilarious, especially when involving the rather hopeless Lina Lamont.
Picture-Perfect Period Costumes
While it may be difficult to compare the costumes of a show like Singin’ to the glitz and glamour you might find in something like Kinky Boots (which opens in Melbourne later this year), the period pieces you’ll see in this work are remarkable. And it’s not just the pieces for the main story, which is set as cinema moved from silent to sound in 1927, but also for the period films they’re creating on stage (and screen, as mentioned). There’s some magnificent work here.
Perfect staging and lighting
Even with a show that has a story this engaging, and actors this good, it can all fall apart with substandard staging and lighting. The team behind this show – who developed it for the 2012 West End revival in London and subsequent world tour – have done an incredible job creating a believable setting that completely absorbs you into the world they create. Transitions move without a hitch and the on stage lighting is extraordinary – in particular during the epic “Broadway Ballet”, as lights come down from above and the floor lights up alongside it. Every inch of this production has been thought out with meticulous detail, and the result is one of the best shows you’re ever likely to experience. Special mention must thus be made to designer Simon Higlett and lighting designer Tim Mitchell.
Just try and wipe the smile off your face
Our 7th and final inclusion on this list may be inspired by one of the lyrics from the show’s title track, but it’s a true one. Whether you’re enjoying the nostalgia of one of cinema’s greatest musicals, or experiencing the story and the music for the first time, this is a show that will have you and the whole family smiling and singing for hours after. This is some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the theatre. Just try and not enjoy it too. I dare ya!
Singin’ in the Rain continues at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney until September 4th, before continuing its tour in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Adam Garcia is anticipated to return to the show in August. For tickets and more details, head HERE.
Photos by Nathan Atkins – head HERE for the full gallery!