‘Singing in the Rain Jr’ is set to hit the boards in Colombo. Presented by the students of Elizabeth Moir School as the week comes to a close, the production will bring some all-time favourite song numbers of musical theatre to life. Directed by Anushka Senanayake, the young cast is geared to take the audience all the way back to the 1920’s, to an era of silent movies with a story woven around the rise of ‘talkies’ (movies with sound) and its evolution.
With a few days to show night, team Life Online made a visit to catch the cast in action and we saw a glimpse of what was to unfold.
Speaking to us, Kharesma Ravichandran (17) who plays the female lead role, 'Cathy' related her past experiences in theatre both abroad and at home and noted how she really enjoyed preparing for her role. As someone who doesn’t usually dance, learning the many dance routines in the play has been a fun and challenging experience for her.
The role of 'Lena', a stereotypical blonde girl who is just a pretty face on the screen is played by Nicole. Faced with the ‘triple threat': inability to sing, act or dance the star's career is at risk with the fall of silent movies. The most interesting aspect of her role has been adjusting to the nasal tone she takes on which is very unlike her regular voice.
What sets this musical apart is the incorporation of complex tap dance routines into the play, which we were able to catch a glimpse of. Teaching tap dancing to kids who have never attempted this form of dance and doing a public production of this magnitude within two months is no easy feat.
Kareshma, Nicole, Akash
Choreographer of the show, Melissa Fisher, a professional dancer herself had much to say in this regard. Amongst her remarks, one thing she highlighted was the fact that the kids have risen to the challenge of learning complex tap dance routines in under six weeks!
The role of 'Don', the male lead is played by Akash who is marking his debut in musical theatre. The most daunting part of the play for him has been mastering singing, acting, and dancing simultaneously as required, a feat he accomplished by practising over and over again. He adds that the best part of the experience is how he managed to bond with the rest of the cast during the course of the production.
The musical is also backed by a live orchestra under the musical direction of Surekha Amerasinghe. Surekha sounded very pleased about the progress of the students in all musical spheres over the recent past.
"Last year we started an orchestra here, we have a lot of different instruments. We’ve managed to build a pretty rich musical culture, it’s wonderful to be able to bring it all together with the acting and the dancing."
Anushka who is no stranger to theatre, having directed multiple musicals with adult casts over the years, shared with us how refreshing it is to be involved with a cast as young and energetic as this.
From picking the best script to every step that came in between until it opens to the public, the team has made every effort possible to elevate this from the standard of a regular school production. Will they succeed, is your call. Do make your way to the Lionel Wendt theatre to find out!
‘Singing in the Rain Jr’ is a family-friendly piece delivering a great message with brilliant music and with an added treat this time, tap dancing.
The show opens Friday the 10th of November, and will have two shows closing on the 11th of November, at the Lionel Wendt theatre.
Time-7:30 pm onwards.
Tickets priced at Rs.2000, 1500, 1000 and 600 are available at the school reception.
Pics by Zeeshan Akram Jabeer