A good show!

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By 2017-11-19

By Shani Asokan
Ceylon Today Features
The adaptation of the Broadway musical Singin' in the Rain and the 1952 movie of the same name was brought to life by Elizabeth Moir's Junior School on 10 and 11 November 2017 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre.

The award-winning story is set in Hollywood in the late 1920s, during the last days of the silent movie era. Directed by Anushka Senanayake and choreographed by Melissa Fisher, it follows Lina Lamont (Nicole Haddon) and Don Lockwood (Akash Gnanam), a movie star couple who are trying to make a quick transition from the world of silent films to the "Talkies" (talking films) that have now taken centre stage.

When Lamont's extremely nasal and high-pitched voice threatens the duo's success, they, along with their studio, Monumental Pictures, must take some rather extreme measures to make the leap into a whole new era of film. This is because Don and Lina, labelled 'The perfect couple' by the tabloids due to their continuous slew of silent films together, are vital to the studio's profitability. However, behind the scenes, Lina's love for Don is only unrequited, and the pair are barely friends.

Monumental Pictures too encourages the rumours about their romantic relationship due to its profitable nature, and thus insist on having Lina star opposite Don in the "Talkies" at whatever cost. This involves getting a talented young actress named Kathy Selden (Kharesma Ravichandran) to do all the talking and singing for Lina behind the scenes. With a live music ensemble, beautiful sets and lighting, and a group of young tap dancers trained especially for this production, opening night went off with a bang. There was a lot of young talent on the stage that night, with a spectacular vocal performance by Kharesma, playing the young actress made to be the voice behind Nicole Haddon's Lina Lamont. Haddon's own performance was a show stealer, her impression of the character's nasal, high pitched voice leading the audience to countless fits of giggles.

Although the microphone cues got a little messed up at the beginning, causing a slight lapse in sound during the opening number and a few that followed, the actors didn't miss a beat, playing off each other naturally. A common problem with most school plays is the inability of young actors to project their voices enough to be coherent to the whole audience.

However, in this case, everyone with a speaking role was wired with a personal mic which alleviated that problem. Additionally, all the main cast members were able to deliver their lines clearly, allowing everyone present to be able to follow the story from start to finish without confusion. The adaptation itself was clear and well-scripted, and the audience was able to follow along even if they hadn't seen any of the other versions before.

The sets were built beautifully, and during the famous "Singin' in the Rain" number, the lights, made to look like rainfall, added to the overall ambience of the scene, making it more realistic. As a whole, the Junior School put on a great show, and as far as school level productions go, I'd say this one took the cake.



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