Singin’ in the Rain - Long to rain over us
- Anna Millar
- 25 June 2009
Few will forget that ‘glorious’ feeling as Gene Kelly splashes through puddles, umbrella in hand, to Singin’ in the Rain’s title number. Still a feature on numerous best-loved lists, Kelly’s classic of the silver screen is widely considered an apogee of screen musical art. Boasting a memorable roster of songs and unforgettable dance numbers, it is being re-imagined for the stage this fortnight at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Award-winning musical actor Tim Flavin, who takes on Kelly’s role of hoofer Don Lockwood, believes the show will always have a place in the heart of its fans. ‘It’s just a classic Hollywood musical from the golden era,’ he says. ‘People rightly mention it in the same breath as Casablanca and Gone With the Wind; even today it’s so watchable and fresh.’
For Flavin, the chance to play in a show that had such an influence on his own career has been an honour. ‘Gene Kelly’s work is paramount to its success,’ he says with a smile. ‘His performance as an actor, and the film itself, had a huge impact on me as child and now I get to play a role that defined him. It’s that lovely thing of life going full circle. I feel very blessed to have the role and follow in his footsteps.’
In fact, sometimes he feels Kelly is right there with him. ‘There are moments when I am hanging off the lamp-post, dancing in the rain and feel the Gene tingle going down my spine.’
The story stays as close to the original film as it can. After years as a vaudeville stage hoofer, Don Lockwood has finally become a star of the silent silver screen, before having his confidence shattered by a chance meeting with ingénue Kathy Selden. ‘The story is a great one and we’ve tried to be as faithful to the film as possible and to recognise as much of the iconic imagery as possible,’ says Flavin. ‘When people remember Singin’ in the Rain they tend to remember people walking over sofas and dancing in puddles, and we’ve tried to give people what they want.’
The actor is keen to note that while much of the casting of musical theatre in the 00s has been about attracting famous faces, Singin’ in the Rain has bypassed that to boast a cast of old-school professionals. ‘We’re a reality TV and soap opera-free zone, which is nice,’ he laughs. ‘We have a cast of real hoofers and that’s pretty special – we’ve managed to recreate a lot of scenes just as they are in the film because of the standard of the cast.’
With a touring production, Flavin says that keeping the standard high is of the utmost importance. ‘It comes back to this sense of what makes a classic. There is nothing like the coming together of so many amazing creative forces. You have this incredible score that people simply love, beautifully executed and a story that is beautifully woven into that. People talk about magic in the theatre as this sort of intangible thing but I think we’ve really managed to create that here.
‘Every time the music starts, you hear a gasp and someone in the audience says “Oh great, it’s that one now …” As an actor there’s nothing like it.’