Maxwell Caulfield as R F Simpson, in Singin' In The Rain at Norwich Theatre Royal June 4-14 2014

Maxwell and co get set to dazzle in classic musical

Monday, June 2, 2014
12.05 PM

More heavy rain is forecast for Norfolk from Wednesday. But relax - it’s in the form of classic musical Singin’ In the Rain at Norwich Theatre Royal. ABIGAIL SALTMARSH talks to one of it’s stars, Maxwell Caulfield.

The cast of Singin' In The Rain at Norwich Theatre Royal June 4-14 2014The cast of Singin' In The Rain at Norwich Theatre Royal June 4-14 2014

Something of Gene Kelly seems to have rubbed off on actor Maxwell Caulfield.

Just as the handsome Hollywood actor laughed at the dark up above in the movie Singin’ in the Rain, so Maxwell, who stars in the hit musical version of the silver screen smash, seems unfailingly positive.

Not only is Maxwell, who arrives in Norfolk with the show this Wednesday, still chipper about being on tour since November but he and his wife Juliet Mills have been following the trials and tribulations of Norwich City and are determined to see past the stormy clouds.

“We were both very sorry that Norwich was relegated but feel you guys will definitely come back – you deserve to be a top flight team,” says the actor, who is known for his roles in long-running US soap Dynasty and film Grease 2.

“Norwich itself is a lovely town and is full of very spirited people. I have enjoyed touring the UK and discovering more about so many different places, some of which I have perhaps had preconceptions about that have then not turned out to be true.

“Wherever I have been with Singin’ in the Rain I have met people with a profound sense of tradition and a great love of the arts. It has been a very enlightening experience.”

The stage version of the great Hollywood movie, famously starring Debbie Reynolds, as well as Gene Kelly, also seems to have been bringing sunshine to theatres across the UK. Audiences have been relishing the whole spectacle of the all-singing, all-dancing show.

“We have had a fabulous reaction from all parts of the country,” continues Maxwell, who plays studio boss R F Simpson. “But it is not surprising it has been wildly successful – this is one of the all time great American musicals.

“People loved the film and although this is a new production it is also a faithful reproduction. It is a lavish show that pulls out all the stops and the way they make it rain really is pretty neat.”

The musical, which features songs from the original MGM score, including Good Morning, Make ‘em Laugh, Moses Supposes and, of course, the classic Singin’ in the Rain, has been developed around high-energy choreography and a spectacular set.

Thousands of litres of water descend on the stage during each of the two rain sequences, leaving about two inches of water through which the actors dance.

“It is a dazzling show to watch but I think it appeals to people for more than just that,” says Maxwell. “I think the story also resonates. It focuses on the move from silent movies to talkies, which in some ways is not unlike some of the seismic shifts we have seen as we have moved into the digital age.”

Set in the roaring 1920s, the show reveals how films with sound are about to become the next big thing – and this could spell bad news for silent movie stars, such as handsome ham Don Lockwood and his squeaky-voiced leading lady Lina Lamont, played by Coronation Street favourite Vicky Binns.

Lockwood casts about for a solution to his thorny dilemma, and believes he may have found it in golden-toned young chorus girl Kathy. But the scheming Lina is all out to take advantage.

Singin’ in the Rain is not Maxwell’s first foray into the world of stage musicals; in the US he has also appeared in Chicago in the West End and La Cage aux Folles, and is keen to do more stage as well as television and film work.

“My work has been varied but variety is the spice of life and one needs new challenges. Musicals can be great fun,” he says.

Born in Derbyshire, and married to actor Juliet Mills, daughter of the late Sir John Mills, he is known for parts in Emmerdale and Casualty, as well as US soaps Dynasty and The Colbys.

“There is some very good television being made today and I would certainly like to be in something long-running again. It is good to be part of something big, something that is part of popular culture.

“But at the end of the day what I love more than anything is entertaining and that is very much what Singin’ in the Rain is about. It is light-hearted and people come away from it feeling happy – and to be part of something like that is a joyous experience.”

Singin’ in the Rain opens at the Theatre Royal in Norwich on Wednesday and runs until Saturday June 14. For more information or to book call 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk