• ‘Pre-Singin’ in Manila’s summer

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    Almirall recreates the memorable ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ scene of silent film superstar Don Lockwood

    Almirall recreates the memorable ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ scene of silent film superstar Don Lockwood

    There’s no stopping Grant Almirall, Bethany Dickson and Steven Van Wyk, the three lead actors of Singin’ in the Rain—one of the most watched and enjoyed theater productions from West End, London—in showing this side of the world what they’ve got.

    Straight from the final show of the production’s highly successful run in Auckland, New Zealand, the talented trio have flown to the Asia Pacific region to promote their musicale theater tour, which will go from Singapore to Manila, to Hong Kong and Australia from July all through to May 2016.

    On Thursday, Almirall, Dickson and Van Wyk graced a press launch for the Manila leg of Singin’ in the Rain at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Paranaque City, which will also host the production in its newly opened and state-of-the-art The Theater at Solaire.

    Bethany Dickson is Kathy Selden, an aspiring actress and singer

    Bethany Dickson is Kathy Selden, an aspiring actress and singer

    “We left New Zealand on Sunday night and it was Grant’s birthday. So we had our final show and his birthday party [on the same night]. I went home, had three hours of sleep, packed my bags, and rushed to Hong Kong and met the press. The next day, [we]packed our bags, barely slept [again]and came here,” shared Dickson of the principal cast’s hectic schedule.

    But everything was “cool” as she quickly added, “I don’t think I’d ever be visiting four countries in a span of a week. So this is really cool for us [to travel together]we’re good friends.”

    After this Manila stop, Almirall, Dickson and Van Wyk are headed to Singapore and Australia to complete the promotion of Singin’ in the Rain’s Asian tour.

    Dickson plays Kathy Selden in the stage adaptation of the iconic 1952 film of the same title. She is an aspiring actress and singer who will fall in love with Don Lockwood, the lead character portrayed by Almirall.

    Steven Van Wyk plays Lockwood’s sidekick, Cosmo Brown who is in charge of the laughs in the musicale

    Steven Van Wyk plays Lockwood’s sidekick, Cosmo Brown who is in charge of the laughs in the musicale

    “It [the stage adaptation]is pretty close to the movie in terms of the story line based in 1927 [when]the moving pictures or silent movies were becoming talking pictures. A lot of the silent movie stars who are absolutely beautiful didn’t quite make that transition to the talking pictures because of their voices. They looked beautiful on screen but they couldn’t speak very well,” Almirall related.

    Singin’ in the Rain finds Lockwood, a famous silent movie actor, in the middle of shooting a silent film with onscreen partner Lina Lamont. Because of the transition in the film industry, he decided to turn his silent film into a talking picture. He then finds out that Lamont has “high pitched nasal voice” and therefore sounded terrible. He then dubs Selden’s voice over Lamont’s, and in the process falls in love with her, much to the dismay of the actress.

    Throughout the story, sidekick Cosmo Brown accompanies Lockwood through his ups and downs by always making him laugh. It is Van Wyk who has the pleasure of brining this funny man to life.

    “My character is comical that’s why I can’t do the same thing every night, otherwise we won’t find the funny side [of the musical]. At some point I also kind of play [on stage since]there’s a little bit of room for improvisation.”

    Himself a stage choreographer and founder of dance company Underground Dance Theater, Van Wyk talked about how he was given the role of Brown.

    “This is an absolute dream role for me! I didn’t actually audition for the role but [rather]teaching some of the choreography. At some point, I was told ‘Why don’t you play Cosmo?’,” he recalled.

    The turn of events was a little bit different for Almirall and Dickson who had “big shoes to fill” the moment they earned the roles of Lockwood and Selden.

    Lockwood was originally popularized by the late Gene Kelly, an American dancer, actor, singer, film director, producer and choreographer.

    Almirall explained, “My character as Don Lockwood really was Gene Kelly. He was a superstar. He was extremely charming and wonderful to watch. Those were all the principal characteristics of Don Lockwood. So in essence, it’s hard to say that I made it completely different from Gene Kelly. But at the end of the day, I try to make my own personality come through.”

    Almirall also has the nightly honor of recreating the musical’s most memorable number, “Singin’ in the Rain,” with the help of 12,000 liters of water pouring down and splashing across the stage. He thus warned about the designated “Splash Zone” in the first three rows of every theater the show is staged.

    Other famous songs from the original movie included in the play are “Good Morning,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and “Moses Supposes.”

    Meanwhile, Dickson has big shoes to fill as legendary actress Debbie Reynolds played Selden in the movie.

    “She made it what it is and everyone will see her face and hear her voice,” Dickson said of Reynolds. “There’s a lot of pressure… It’s just coming to terms with the fact that I will make this character my own but still tell the story. And people will respond accordingly.”

    Dickson added, “We step into the shoes of these iconic roles. It’s a privilege that I have to remind myself and pinch myself that it’s actually happening. Yet along with that comes a huge pride.”

    Singin’ in the Rain opens on August 20. For ticket information, call TicketWorld at 891-9999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph. Singin’ in the Rain is presented in Manila by David Atkins Enterprises, Michael Cassel Group, Concertus Manila, Dainty Group and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and is produced by Stage Entertainment and Chichester Festival Theater.

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