Interviews with cast/creatives of Singin’ in the Rain

The Melbourne season of Singin’ in the Rain begins very soon – so I thought what better way than to share some interview quotes, with the cast and creatives behind the musical, during the sneak rehearsal preview – as seen on this blog.

For more information and tickets, go to:

JAYE ELSTER (Associate Choreographer) & CAMERON WENN (Associate Director)

CAMERONon recreating the show for Australian audiences
“I think this show, because it’s based on such an iconic movie, we all sort of have the same relationship with it here as we have in the UK or even in South Africa, or NZ. The place  where we had the biggest challenge to recreate the show and the spirit of the show was in Moscow, in Russian, with a Russian, because they don’t have a relationship with the movie. So it was a little difficult there, but here, I think everybody knows the movie.”

JAYEon recreating choreography for such an iconic show
“In its beginnings, I think that was something that Andrew Wright (choreographer) was always aware of, is that he was recreating an iconic movie, and whilst he was never going to recreate choreography from that, his challenge was in capturing the heart and the quality of movement and then being able to represent that on stage that was entirely labelled as his own work – that was the challenge that he was facing, which I’d say he rose to more so. And I think that number after number is inspiring, and as a dancer, for me, I feel privileged to pay homage to those iconic numbers. And when the choreography sits right, I know it sits right, because to me, it feels like I’m doing exactly that. I’m paying homage to the movie  and yet I’m not dancing a single step from the movie, so we’re delivering what an audience wants. I’m not trying to change anything but keeping the heart with the show.”

JAYEon the variety of dance styles in the show
“There’s a huge variety of dance styles in this show. That’s why the show is so demanding actually, because they need to be trained technically in ballet and jazz, and there’s a tango sequence and then there’s tapping. There’s also tapping in water, lots of partner work and learning about bodies, and how to keep those safe and to be able to execute it 8 shows a week. So it’s not just about finding people with good feet – it’s about finding people with quick brains and also a knowledge about their bodies to know they can do this night in and night out because every single one of them is an athlete to be doing that. It’s also a lovely element of the show, is that you have relief in not seeing two hours of tap dancing. You get variety, as an audience member, and that’s something that choreographically has been brought to the table, because how do we present the show and it not get monotonous in terms of style – which it doesn’t because we reach out to these other styles of dance.”

CAMERON on using dance to tell the story
“The entire production does tip its hat to the original without going there, which does make it fresh and new, but people can still see those moments that – we obviously have the lamp post scene and those sorts of things, but I think in essence of the choreography, and the reason that it’s been nominated for so many awards, is because it was such a story telling medium. We don’t have the ability to use film to change mood or to tell the story. The choreography in this, is much more narrative than the choreography in the movie.”

JAYEon character relationships
“[The choreography] really does rely on the relationship between the performers as well. The choreography in this show couldn’t be conveyed if that relationship between Adam and Gretel was not so true through those choreographic sequences. Or, if indeed, our ensemble were not as united as friends, because that really brings it to life. Otherwise it’s just steps on stage with nice lighting.”

JAYE & CAMERONon the complications of dancing on stage with water
JAYE – “Lots of heavy umbrellas …”
CAMERON– “We actually flood the stage as well. We come up from underneath, so there’s a layer of water to recreate the splashing” (audio got a little muffled)
JAYE – “The slipperiness of it, as well, because if you’re actually in the troff it’s safer, because the floor has a little bit more grip. The second you step up onto the pavement, it’s like stepping onto ice – it throws for a dancer, how they’re going to manage their weight transference to insure they don’t slip over and fall, but more that they land on top of their feet. And it’s learning all those kinds of things, which is a challenge, because you don’t get to see that before tech. It’s not something we can rehearse and rehearse and rehearse during the rehearsal process, more so only when we have so many runs of it in the theatre.”

JAYEon the Australian cast
“They’re full of vitality. We wouldn’t [have] cast them in the roles that they were doing if they weren’t full of personality and offering something of individuality to our show.”

DSC09451JACK CHAMBERS (Cosmo Brown) & GRETEL SCARLETT (Kathy Selden)

JACKon taking the movie adaptation as inspiration to play the iconic role
“It’s a bit of a mixture because obviously I don’t want to play Donald O’Connor (the actor who originally played Cosmo in the movie adaptation), I want to play Cosmo Brown, so there’s different characteristics to Cosmo which I need to play, but I find new parts to Cosmo that I can bring to the table, and that I can connect with myself. It’s obviously an very iconic role – there is pressure that comes with that – but it’s such a fun role to play. And this is my favourite musical of all time – it’s the reason I got into musical theatre.”

JACK & GRETELon the style of dancing
JACK – “In preparation for that role, I haven’t gone and done ballet classes or anything like that. My strengths as a dancer is jazz and tap. So I’m not too presentable in the way that I dance. I definitely just try and bring charisma and natural style to the role because that’s what it needs. ”
GRETEL – “You’ve got in naturally though. That sort of style, that hoofer background really exists with Jack and what he brings to Cosmo especially.”

GRETELon comparisons between Kathy and Sandy, from Grease, and iconic characters
“She’s sort of similar in some ways and some ways not. This girl in particular, Kathy Selden, doesn’t want to play the Hollywood games – so she’s got that sass to her. And the same concept with Grease, playing an iconic character. We’re not trying to be Donald O’Connor or Debbie Reynolds (the actress who originally played Kathy in the movie adaptation), that’s not what we’re out doing. We’ve got our own take and we’ve been cast accordingly to what we brought to the rehearsal.”

GRETELon using the movie as a reference for story telling
“I think that’s where the history and the research all comes from. Rather than watching the movie, it’s going back to what’s happening at the time sociologically, historically, what was happening, and that’ll effect the way we play our characters.”

JACK & GRETELon it being voted the best film musical of all time
GRETEL – “And it is …”
JACK – “And rightly so!”
GRETEL – “That’s the best thing about this – I remember when opening up the script – I was like, ‘Oh my God! It’s almost word for word in some scenes to what the movie screenplay was intended to be!’ And that I was really happy to see because the general public will be getting a lot of what the original movie is.”

JACK & GRETELon how the musical appeals to today’s generation
JACK – “Well it’s just brilliantly written and usually with people with classic musicals, they go, ‘that’s not my thing’, ‘it’s too old school’ – but its brilliantly written and it’s super funny. The comedy in this show is crying laughing. I’m laughing all the time reading the script and the music’s super catchy! There’s probably not one song in this musical that I do not leave singing for hours and hours in my head afterwards. It’s just charming, it’s fun, it’s light-hearted. You don’t have to really get into a story really deep and deep into it – you just enjoy it for what it is and its enjoyment.”
GRETEL – “I absolutely agree with you. I think it’s a great escape – and this is what it was intended to be at the time. Singin’ in the Rain is the best of both worlds – you get to come to the theatre and go on a journey back in time and I think that’s the most important thing. People like to get away from their outside lives and they’ll get a bit of that here.”

ADAM GARCIA (Don Lockwood) & ERIKA HEYNATZ (Lina Lamont)

ADAMon using Gene Kelly’s performance for inspiration to play the role
“When I did Saturday Night Fever, I also loved that film – even though I was probably too young to see it – lots of swearing – but evidently, I have an image of Gene Kelly (the actor who originally played Don in the movie adaptation). I’ve always loved watching him dance. I’ve always tried to dance like him, in a way, but you kind of absorb everyone who you admired sort of styles. So in a way, like the show does, I’ll pay homage to it, but evidently, when you’re on stage, you just get to do what you do anyway. I’m always getting swept away by just getting to do the choreography, and getting to say the words and fall in love with Kathy and do all these sort of things. I don’t want to displace Gene Kelly at all, but I will just give it my turn on it and hopefully people will like it.”

ERIKA & ADAMon why people should come see the show over other current productions
ERIKA – “Because it’s something that does, it transcends all age groups. It’s something that iconic. People who haven’t seen it will see some of the greatest comedic parings, with the best dance routines, some of the most intricate choreography, timeless choreography, and I think, a romance that’s really lush. It’s a real celebration. It’s really joyful production. There’s some of the other productions that are out at the moment, they’re a little heavier …”
ADAM – “Or naughtier.”
ERIKA – “Yes, naughtier. Exactly. And this is something that’s a real lift, and people want that. People want to walk away feeling as though it’s been transforming, that they’re happy with the experience.”
ADAM – “There’s no real vulgarity. It was created in the 1950s post second world war in order to just uplift people, to have that escapism. And in terms of a musical, when you think about what a musical should be, it makes you feel good, there’s got to be loads of dancing. A lot of musicals now, there’s some dancing but the leads don’t dance.  All the music is either fun or romantic in Singin’ in the Rain,  and people love the music – it’s singing, dancing, acting – you get sort of all of that stuff. This is a triple threat musical for sure.”

ADAMon the variety of dance
“For me, as a dancer, to get to do partner work, padebure, like almost classical ballet, proper Broadway-style Gene Kelly tapping and jazz, I mean you can’t hope to do that – there’s no other musical. This is the one show that I get to do everything and challenge myself to try and do everything well.”

ERIKA & ADAMon Erika’s character not dancing and singing poorly
ERIKA – “No, I don’t (dance), And even when I sing, I have to sing as poorly as possible. That’s a challenge, we did in musical call, the director was like, ‘No no no. I’m gonna tell you, you suck at being bad’. It’s really hard – you’re always correcting yourself, you assume that it’s going to be easy (and) you assume that can do it. It’s really tricky. And the other thing is in terms of the physicality, shes got to be up and really glamorous and the face has got to be immaculate – she’s got to be the complete contrast.”
ADAM – “It’s really technical. What she does is really technically refined. It’s good training.”

ADAMon being back in Australia
“I have (been away for a while). I mean, I do come back a fair bit doing Dancing with the Stars and I did Tap Dogs out here, and I’ve shot some films and TV – but it’s the first time I’ve done a musical in 24 years since I left doing Hot Shoe Shuffle so it’s incredibly exciting! I haven’t played Brisbane before. I’ll be going back to the same theatre in Adelaide (and) the same theatre in Perth that I did when I was a spring chicken, so it’s going to be lovely. So very exciting.”

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