A scene from the musical Singin' In The Rain.
A scene from the musical Singin' In The Rain. Jeff Busby

It's raining great effects at QPAC

IT WOULD be unusual for anything other than the cast and crew to get applause during a musical.

But during Singin' in the Rain the audience often cheers for, well, the rain.

And why shouldn't they? It's the technical centrepiece of the award-winning production, which successfully recreates Gene Kelly's iconic dance routine from MGM's 1952 movie.

The new Australian production premieres in Brisbane tonight for a five-week run and stars Queensland's own rising stars of the stage Gretel Scarlett and Jack Chambers.

Fans of the classic movie will find the musical remains very faithful to the film's script and score, and takes more creative license with the choreography.

Sure Rohan Brown and Grant Almirall, who share the role of Don Lockwood after Adam Garcia was forced to pull out of the show because of an injury, might not be dancing that exact same steps as Kelly but the spirit and for exuberance is there as he gleefully splashed water into the first three rows of the theatre.

Meet the leading cast and their characters as their Brisbane season begins:

The leading man

Grant Almirall as Don Lockwood in a scene from the musical Singin' In The Rain.
Grant Almirall as Don Lockwood in a scene from the musical Singin' In The Rain. Hagen Hopkins

DON Lockwood is Hollywood's biggest silent film star who appears to have everything he wants.

He's famous, successful and has a starlet on his arm, even if his romance with co-star Lina Lamont is just for show.

But when the movie star meets aspiring actress Kathy Selden she makes him question if he actually has any talent.

There's no questioning the talents, though, of Rohan Browne, who answered the call-up after original cast member Adam Garcia tore his calf muscle.

"It's all still fresh for me. I was called up and joined (Grant) pretty swiftly in Sydney."

 Performing Gene Kelly's iconic routine from which the musical gets its name never gets old for Browne, who recently starred in Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom.

"There's something spectacular about doing Dancing in the Rain," he said.

"You're indoors and you can feel the audience just adore it. It's so visceral because it's right here happening right in front of you, as opposed to being on the television.

"It's a beautiful moment and when I first saw it I got the shivers."

 

The rising star

Gretel Scarlett, front, in a scene from the musical Singin' in the Rain.
Gretel Scarlett, front, in a scene from the musical Singin' in the Rain. Jeff Busby


AFTER her extensive run as Sandy in Grease The Musical, Rockhampton native Gretel Scarlett takes on another iconic character as Kathy Selden.

The WAAPA graduate is eager to perform for her home state.

"Brisbane has some of the best audiences in Australia because people travel from places like Townsville and Rockhampton and make the effort to see professional theatre," she said.

"It's my fifth show there now at QPAC and I can't wait."

Ms Scarlett said she was impressed at how faithful the musical is to the film.

"After I left Grease I promised myself I wouldn't do another movie musical again because it was so far removed from the movie," she said.

"But when i picked up the script originally for the (Singin' in the Rain) audition it was pretty much word-for-word what the script was from the film. I felt safe in the hands of people who done a really good stage adaptation of the film."

Straight-talking Kathy is the heroine of the show, whose romance with Don is threatened when she is asked to sing off-camera so that tone-deaf Lina can go on acting in the talking pictures.



The joker
 

Jack Chambers, left, in a scene from the musical Singin' in the Rain.
Jack Chambers, left, in a scene from the musical Singin' in the Rain. Jeff Busby


EVERY leading man needs his sidekick and Don Lockwood finds his in Cosmo Brown.

Brisbane native Jack Chambers takes on the physically demanding role made famous by Donald O'Connor, who literally ran up a wall in the movie.

Cosmo is a character who holds a special place in Chambers' heart.

"It was the first musical I ever did as a kid and it's the reason I pursued musical theatre," he said.

"I played young Cosmo Brown at the age of 10 and I remember that experience really fondly. I had 10 minutes worth of stage time but I loved being side of stage watching the cast."

Chambers embarked on a stage career after winning the first season of the TV series So You Think You Can Dance. His Singin' in the Rain role challenges him in a different way than his jobs focusing strictly on dance.

"Burn The Floor was the last thing I did and that was epic. I felt like I'd aged 20 years physically during that show," he said.

"I find musical theatre is more about maintenance physically, vocally and mentally."

 



The villainess

Mike Bishop and Erika Heynatz in a scene from the musical Singin' In The Rain.
Mike Bishop and Erika Heynatz in a scene from the musical Singin' In The Rain. Jeff Busby


MODEL-turned-actress Erika Heynatz nearly steals the show as villain Lina Lamont.

Lina is a deluded movie star whose successful on-screen partnership with Don Lockwood is threatened when silent movies become talking pictures.

Her high-pitched voice is so grating that Monumental Pictures finds its biggest star may be its biggest liability in the new world of the 'talkies'.

And when Lina discovers Don's romance with Kathy it sends her into a spin.

"Lina is the most fantastic role. I just want all roles to be like this - joyful and fun," Heynatz said.

"Nothing like a good diva meltdown."

It's the new mum's biggest stage role to date after landing supporting roles in Legally Blonde and Rocky Horror Picture Show. She spent months perfecting Lina's grating voice.

"It took a few months to find the right level of revolting for her sound," she laughed. "The tone of her voice is the most challenging but the most rewarding. I can sense from that very first minute I open my mouth they (the audience) goes 'ugh' and that's the goal. It's the prettiest picture with the most hideous sound, and that's the fun of it."

Singin' in the Rain plays QPAC's Lyric Theatre through October 30.
 


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