Mu­si­cal makes splash

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Tanya MacNaughton

PRINT jour­nal­ists have a fron­trow seat to the way tech­nol­ogy can change a pro­fes­sion, but the me­dia in­dus­try is not the first to be forced into mak­ing ad­just­ments to keep up.

Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in the 1920s film in­dus­try saw black-and-white silent movies re­placed by ‘talkies’ and clas­sic mu­si­cal Sin­gin’ in the Rain gives a satir­i­cal nod to this evolution.

The cur­rent Aus­tralian tour of the 2012 West End pro­duc­tion was di­rected by Jonathan Church (Chich­ester Fes­ti­val Theatre) and be­gins with a rock­et­ing mon­tage show­cas­ing the glam­our and pol­i­tics of 1927 Hol­ly­wood.

Grau­man’s Chi­nese Theatre is the per­fect set­ting to in­tro­duce ‘ro­man­tic lovers of the screen’ Don Lock­wood and Lina La­mont at the pre­miere of their lat­est film, The Royal Ras­cal.

Cosmo Brown (Jack Cham­bers), Don’s life­long friend, ar­rives and we get a blast into the two friends’ past with a flash­back to their Fit as a Fid­dle vaude­ville act.

Lock­wood and La­mont are roy­alty of the silent film in­dus­try, but as soon as La­mont (Erika Hey­natz) speaks, it is clear that a high-pitched, grat­ing voice like hers has no fu­ture in the new world of cinema.

It has taken two ac­tors, Grant Almi­rall and Ro­han Browne, shar­ing the role of Don Lock­wood, to fill the shoes of Adam Gar­cia (in­jured dur­ing the Mel­bourne sea­son) who in turn filled the re­mark­able tap shoes of Gene Kelly in the 1952 film.

Ro­han Browne was on stage the night of this view­ing and shone like the movie star he was por­tray­ing.

Cham­bers’ comic tim­ing and phys­i­cal prow­ess in Make ’Em Laugh makes his au­di­ence do just that, the pol­ished slap­stick per­for­mance a stand­out among many in this hit-fuelled mu­si­cal.

As is the Cham­bers and Browne toe-tap­ping Moses Sup­poses and Gre­tel Scar­lett’s de­liv­ery of You Are my Lucky Star as Kathy Selden, a tal­ented ac­tress who re­fuses to play the Hol­ly­wood game.

Scar­lett’s portrayal of Kathy is sub­lime and the ideal jux­ta­po­si­tion to lead­ing lady Lina, an­other suc­cess­ful role added to Hey­natz’s mu­sic theatre ca­reer.

The rustling of pon­chos from the first few au­di­ence rows dur­ing Good Morn­ing sig­nals the mu­si­cal’s ti­tle song is not far away.

As the rain falls down in Sin­gin’ in the Rain, it is uncertain who has the most fun in the iconic scene – Browne splash­ing the au­di­ence, the front two rows get­ting soggy or ev­ery­one else glee­ful in watch­ing the soak­ing.

Those who don’t leave their seat at in­ter­val im­me­di­ately af­ter this scene will have the op­por­tu­nity to watch the crew work­ing fever­ishly to pre­pare the stage for act two, drain­ing away the 6000 litres of re­cy­cled and treated wa­ter used each time it rains on stage (2000 litres fall from above and 4000 litres flood from be­low).

De­spite these lo­gis­tics, the rest of the set is stream­lined and eas­ily trans­forms from a film set to Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard to a Mon­u­men­tal Pic­tures af­ter-party in sec­onds.

The or­ches­tra is glimpsed high above, nes­tled in the Hol­ly­wood Hills.

Sin­gin’ in the Rain is a cross­gen­er­a­tional, up­lift­ing visit to the theatre that will have you wish­ing for a lit­tle sum­mer rain to recre­ate your own Don Lock­wood mo­ment.

It is show­ing at Crown Theatre Perth, De­cem­ber 31 to Jan­uary 22.

The writer re­viewed Sin­gin’ in the Rain dur­ing the Bris­bane sea­son.

Jack Cham­bers, Ro­han Browne and Gre­tel Scar­lett.

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