Singin’ in the Rain made a splash on the Sydney stage earlier this month, abruptly instating itself as a must see.
In the role made famous by Debbie Reynolds, Gretel Scarlett steps into the dancing shoes of unlikely leading lady Kathy Selden.
“It’s nice to play the outsider and a nice strong female in the 1920’s because I think they get forgotten about,” she told City Hub.
Based on the 1952 MGM film, the musical tells a light hearted tale of Hollywood in the late 1920’s, as the introduction of the ‘talkies’ threatens the careers of the greatest silent screen stars.
This spectacular display of musical theatre pays absolute homage to the original – “to the point that we have 12,000 litres of rain on stage, that’s how specific we’re trying to get…”
Indeed, the first three rows of the audience are deemed “the splash zone” and assigned ponchos in preparation for one of Scarlett’s favourite numbers, the titular ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.
With headlining star Adam Garcia out of action for at least a few more weeks due to injury, Grant Almirall took the stage as the iconic Don Lockwood on opening night, and in no part did he look the backup option – hitting all the right notes and steps with absolute charm and ease. He shares the role with Rohan Browne until Garcia makes a recovery.
It’s hard to do justice to the finesse of this production. Excuse the remnants of old school Hollywood white washing, and even this sceptical, pseudo-anti-establishment reporter found it hard to fault. The staging is impeccable and the ensemble cast flawless.
Erika Heynatz is delightfully shrill as Don’s unbearable co-star Lina Lamont, and Jack Chambers is appropriately mischievous as Don’s best pal Cosmo Brown.
Gretel Scarlett makes an excellent Kathy, with her classical singing training coming in handy.
“It’s nice to have moments in the show, especially for myself when singing the ballads, and you just see the audience sit there and they’re so quiet, just listening to the lyric…”
The choreography is executed with unbelievable animation and even the humour, although it shows its vintage, evokes uproars of laughter. But most surprisingly, the relationships in this show have not dated.
Don and Kathy very believably fall for one another. Kathy is very much her own person, and she is not pitted against another woman (in the usual way at least) in order to win Don’s affections.
This was a refreshing turn for Scarlett after two years of playing Sandy in the Australian production of Grease: The Musical, which she describes as “morally not the greatest story…a girl changes herself for a guy”, although she is fortunate for the experience.
“You’ve got so much involved in this show that it hits everything,” Scarlett said of Singin’. “If you love a comedy, if you love a drama, if you love singing, you love dancing, you love the rain, you love the spectacle of the show – it’s got something for everyone.”
Audiences members be warned, don’t rush for the exits after the final curtain call – as the heavens open up again soon after for a delightful final tribute to Gene Kelly involving the whole cast.
An absolute joy. (AM)
Until Sept 4, varied performance times. Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star, Pirrama Road, Pyrmont. From $74.90. Tickets & info: singin.com.au or ticketmaster.com.au