Gretel Scarlett makes a triple threat splash as Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain


Gretel Scarlett as Kathy Selden.
Gretel Scarlett as Kathy Selden.

MUSIC theatre performer and WAAPA graduate Gretel Scarlett promised herself she would never do another iconic role after playing Sandy in the 2013-14 production of Grease.

And then auditions for an Australian production of Singin’ in the Rain were announced.

“People would constantly ask me what it was like playing Olivia Newton-John; I didn’t play Olivia, I played Sandy,” Rockhampton-raised Scarlett said.

“I finished with that show and said never again, and then this one came out and I couldn’t stop staring at the brief because a triple threat role (singing, acting and dancing) is rare in Australia.

“I love (the character) Kathy Selden and think she’s just a ray of sunshine; she’s like no one else on the stage and doesn’t play the Hollywood games.”

Scarlett grew up watching old MGM movies on a Sunday afternoon, inspired by Carousel, Kiss Me Kate and Oklahoma!, but it was Singin’ in the Rain which was her biggest influence.

“I was probably about seven or eight when I first saw it and that Good Morning scene was the thing where I went ‘That’s what I want to do’,” she said.

“That was my entire inspiration because we couldn’t afford to go to the big city to see professional theatre.”

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Scarlett stopped her rhythmic gymnastics classes, although she still combines the techniques with ballet and pilates in her 45-minute full body pre-show warm-up, and concentrated on acting, singing and dancing.

She graduated from WAAPA in 2008 and has since been in productions of Mamma Mia!, Wicked and Grease.

Despite having to navigate around the drains on stage for the 6000 litres of water used each time it rains, Scarlett’s biggest challenge in Singin’ in the Rain has been dancing with several Don Lockwoods after Adam Garcia injured his calf and was forced to leave the production.

Grant Almirall and Rohan Browne now share the part, performing four shows a week each.

“Everyone at first was running around like a headless chook, freaking out that we needed more Don Lockwoods and no one stopped to wonder how I was doing,” she said.

“I change every show between Rohan and Grant; you can’t ask two boys to be the same, so I have to be ready for however they’re going to hold me.

“People would tell us how disappointed they were not to see him (Garcia) but we lost the guy that was leading us from the beginning and all had to pick up the pieces and keep the curtain up.”

The curtain has stayed up and the production will be at Crown Theatre Perth from December 31.

Scarlett hoped audiences of all generations would take away beautiful memories from the show.

“I saw this gorgeous picture I put on Twitter while we were in Melbourne where someone had posted a grandfather with a walking frame who was holding the hand of a four-year-old girl,” she said.

“I think it’s so inspiring for grandparents and parents bringing along the younger generation to see what real music theatre is like.

“It’s those memories where people say it’s spectacular and you didn’t expect it to be as great as it was. You just have to see it to believe it.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Singin’ in the Rain

Where: Crown Theatre Perth

When: from December 31

Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com.au