Operatic Society hoping to make a splash with classic

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IT might not be immediately obvious just yet, but we are now into spring, so Berwick Operatic Society are hoping you’ll forgive them for bringing some wet weather back to town at the end of the month when they take ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ to the stage.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of toe-tapping tunes and dazzling dance routines to prevent any grey clouds from gathering over The Maltings.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the Operatic Society’s 2010 production ‘Carousel’ but it will be the stage rather than the eyes of the audience that will wiping this time round as the Operatic Society’s leading man, Cameron Cheek, will get into Gene Kelly mode and put his tap skills to the test for the show’s signature tune.

Back on the Berwick stage for the first time since playing Curly in ‘Oklahoma’ back in 2008, Cameron has been put through his paces to ensure he’s got all the moves down for opening night, on Wednesday, March 23.

‘‘I’ve been living and working in London for a while, so it’s great to be back on The Maltings stage,’’ he says. ‘‘The last time I did any sort of show was ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’ last August. I grew up in Berwick so it’s always good to perform in front of your home crowd.

“I’ve never actually done ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ on stage before, but it’s a musical I know reasonably well and I’m very excited to be doing it. Gene Kelly was an absolute brilliant dancer and really made the role his own. I’m going to be honest and say I could never hope to be as good as him, but I’m going to give it a bloody good try.

“I’m not a trained dancer and I’ve been having tap lessons from Lisa Summers (who is also in the show as Lina Lamont) for four or five hours a week, so it’s been keeping me busy.’’

Recent shows to hit The Maltings stage include the acclaimed Broadway musical ‘Rent’ and even though ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ isn’t necessarily up there with its younger, more hip peers, both Cameron and director Wendy Payn believ it has all the elements to make it a real feel- good show for all ages. Cameron adds: “It is a timeless classic. If you enjoy any type of musical theatre you’ll enjoy ‘Singin’ In The Rain’. It’s got some great songs. Aside from the famous title track there’s ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Make Em Laugh’ which was recently performed on ‘Glee’.

Wendy says: “It helps that the parts are perfectly cast, all the principals fit their roles so well. Anna has the perfect voice for the role Debbie Reynolds played in the film version; Lisa could actually be Lina Lamont; and Gary Robson brings a lot of humour as Cosmo. If you take away the typical boy-meets-girl scenario that’s in most shows there is actually a lot more to ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ and I think people will love the 1920s outfits - there’s a lot of macks as well!”

Wendy was recently named north east youth drama champion in recognition of her 20 years’ service to drama in Berwick and says ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ was definitely one of her more trickier shows to direct.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic show, but it’s also a musical which involves a lot more than costumes, props and learning lines,” she explains.

“There are a number of film sequences in it which will have to be recorded before and then of course there’s the rain. A number of suggestions have been thrown at me for how to do this, ranging from putting some holes in a hosepipe; getting two people to stand on ladders with watering cans; and even having people with super soakers. Now that would be funny!

“However we do it my main worry is that Cameron slips on stage, so I could well be sitting in the lighting box with my hands over my eyes at that point.”

The show runs from March 23-26.