Royal City Musical Theatre’s production of Singin’ In the Rain brings the classic musical to the stage
Singin’ In the Rain
When: April 4 to 20
Where: Massey Theatre
Tickets: $49 adults, $39 seniors/students, $19 children 13 under at ticketsnw.ca
Royal City Musical Theatre’s production of Singin’ In the Rain marks the 30th anniversary of the New West company. Dedicated to mounting large-scale musicals, RCMT is overseen by Valerie Easton, now in her 10th year as artistic director. For Singin’ in the Rain, the company employs a cast of 16 (including leads Andrew Cohen, Tessa Trach, and Blake Sartin) and an 18-member orchestra, conducted by longtime RCMT musical director James Bryson. We talked to Easton, who is directing and choreographing the show, about bringing the classic movie musical (first brought to the stage in 1983) to the Massey Theatre.
Q: Why Singin’ in the Rain?
A: I wanted to do a show we hadn’t done before. It’s not one that’s done a lot, and it’s such an iconic musical.
Q: There are a lot of balls to juggle in these productions, including a large cast. What else?
A: In Singin’ in the Rain, we have some silent movies. They were really fun to film — we filmed them at Galbraith Manor (a Victorian mansion in New West). And there’s a sword-fighting element to it that the cast had to learn. We had somebody come in to teach that. There are lots of different elements to this show, more than what a normal musical has.
Q: Have you seen any other productions of Singin’ in the Rain?
A: I did the choreography for one at the Arts Club 15 years ago. I don’t think my choreography for this one is the same though. It was so long ago. And this show is a lot of work, so it’s not one that people take on lightly.
Q: Does putting on one show a year mean that you have more time to prepare than theatre companies with full seasons?
A: Well, we usually have two or three professional actors who could work during the day. But most of the cast can work only in the evenings. So rehearsals are spread out over a long time. We started at the end of January, but when you add up the hours it’s about four weeks we get to rehearse. So we don’t necessarily have more hours. It does seem time-sensitive when you get down to the wire.
Q: You mentioned the black-and-white films and the fight choreography. What are some other touches or challenges in this musical?
A: Well, there’s the rain. I’m not going to give how we do that away! And there’s a lot of tap-dancing. Finding people who can do that was a real challenge. But we did find them, and they’re great. We have a really strong ensemble cast but it took awhile to get them all together, to find the right people.
Q: What new discoveries are you making about the source material? Anything about the characters or the story?
A: The musical brings the movie to life. Going to a stage show from a movie script, it’s not always exactly the same. But this is a really great adaptation. It hits all the points that people want to see and it’s just really exciting to bring it to life, to feel the energy on the stage and be a part of it. And it’s great for any age. You don’t have to be afraid to bring the kids. It’s just such a fun, heartwarming, lovely story. And I think audiences will love it.