Dancin' in the Rain!

Friday, July 5TH 2018

HELLO THERE! Welcome back to the Sound Ideas backstage blog. This week we’re hearing from our fabulous Singin’ in the Rain choreographer, Martin Smith!

How do you start choreographing a show like Singin’ in the Rain? The film is full of iconic moments – the title number, ‘Good Mornin’’ and the ‘Broadway Ballet’ amongst them.

Whilst working on the choreography, I avoided watching the film to make sure I wasn’t too influenced and merely produced a carbon copy of Gene, Debbie and Donald’s moves. Having said that, after hundreds of previous viewings, it was impossible to completely avoid its influence! It also wouldn’t be ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ without some key moments from the film – Don Lockwood leaning out from a lamppost; the three leads walking over a sofa together; some manic tapping in ‘Moses Supposes’. These have all made it into the show.

The one thing I did do in way of preparation was to listen to the stage soundtrack on almost a constant loop leading up to the auditions and first rehearsal.

This helped me form some initial ideas and imagining what would work well. I remember being on a train to London and suddenly becoming aware that I was tapping my feet which must have been very annoying for fellow passengers.

I fought the temptation to start choreographing in earnest until the show was cast as I wanted the dances to suit the principals and ensemble.

Knowing the cast helped me visualise what the numbers would look like and what would work (and what wouldn’t). When it came to actually knuckling down and working out the choreography, I’d make sure I cleared at least 3 hours per session so I had enough time per number to work out what I wanted to do, write it down properly, and then confirming I could actually dance it myself! I found the solo, duo and trio numbers easier to visualise and put together – mainly because when choreographing ensemble numbers, thinking of how the formations and arm lines of multiple people would look like wasn’t as easy when you’re by yourself! Most of the time it worked out OK but I always remained open enough for tweaks to be suggested and adopted during rehearsals.

What I really enjoyed about the choreography process was the chance to put my tap shoes on again and attempting to open up my imagination. I mentioned above some of the moments from the original film that have ended up in the show but I’ve also taken inspiration from places that may not be obvious reference points – other dance based shows and film such as A Chorus Line, The Will Rogers Follies, 1920s MGM musicals and Sweet Charity, and dancing styles such as ballroom, tango, and lindy hop –the steps and moments are fleeting but they are in there somewhere!

You can see

Singin’ in the Rain
Norwich Playhouse

August 22nd-25th, nightly at 7:30pm
September 23rd, 25th and 26th: 2:30pm