BWW Interviews: Bethany Dickson Talks Debbie Reynolds, Jonathan Roxmouth, and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Manila, Philippines - The role of novice actress Kathy Selden in one of the most well-loved movie musicals of all time, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952), is synonymous to Debbie Reynolds, whose portrayal of the sharp-witted leading lady in the Gene Kelly-helmed film, made her a household name. Reynolds has set the standard, so to speak, and filling her shoes in any of the screen-to-stage adaptations of the crowd-pleasing hit musical - whether it be on Broadway, in the West End, or on the road - can be daunting.
However, there was not a trace of any intimidation when we saw a confident young actress in Bethany Dickson (SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE SOUND OF MUSIC), who played the role of Selden, at the Civic Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand in May. In fact, she sang and acted the part so effortlessly - her dulcet tones, especially in her solo spot, "You Are My Lucky Star," were so gorgeous. As audience members - who've seen the film several times - you just knew the role of Selden was in such good hands.
Her secret to looking unfazed is a daily dose of reminder to "stay calm," said Dickson - who's so pleasant to be with - in an interview with BroadwayWorld.com. "The calmer I am, the more I can sing to the best of my ability.
"To get calm, I pray and remind myself how blessed I am, and how incredible it is to take an audience in this journey every night."
Just like the film, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN onstage, follows the journey of erstwhile vaudeville double act partners Don Lockwood (Duane Alexander plays the role), who later made it big during the silent motion picture era, and Cosmo Brown (Steven van Wyk); silent film star Lina Lamont (Taryn-Lee Hudson); and, of course, Dickson's Selden who find themselves on the brink of the eventual death of silent films due to the emergence of sound cinema, which was pioneered by THE JAZZ SINGER (1927).
Interestingly, Dickson is no stranger to the gamechanging transition from silent films to talkies having played the role of budding screenwriter Betty Schaefer in the 2013 South African production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's SUNSET BOULEVARD, which also tackles the dreaded changeover, and starred Manila's favorite PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Jonathan Roxmouth, in the lead role of Joe Gillis.
"I find the era really fascinating!" said Dickson. "SUNSET BOULEVARD follows the same sort of journey when silent films became talkies. It's incredible to be part of another production that follows that same journey - how those movie stars tried to transition from one into the other, and how some of them didn't make it."
On her favorite leading man Roxmouth, she revealed, "We did GREASE together in 2010. I was Sandy; he was Danny. We became really good friends. To be able to work together in SUNSET BOULEVARD after a couple of years was really a treat."
She continued, "I'm one of his biggest fans although a lot in Manila would think they're his biggest fans. He's incredibly talented!"
Happily married for four years now, and misses her very supportive husband and their 10-month-old rottweiler, Tank, whenever she's touring for SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - which opens in Manila, Philippines in two weeks - Dickson said this stage production of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is "not completely different from the movie."
She said further, "That's what so incredible about this show - it doesn't exactly copy the movie, but it captures the spirit of the film.
"Going on in this journey - with this particular group of people - we've managed to find our own flavor with the help of our director Jonathan Church and the creative team that came out from the UK. You can't go and create the exact movie, which is so famous. You have to find your own flavor, your own interpretation."
"There's no way I can be Debbie Reynolds!" sheepishly quipped Dickson.
In the video below, BroadwayWorld.com and Concertus Manila chat with Bethany Dickson and her co-star Steven van Wyk at the Civic Theater in Auckland, New Zealand.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - The Story
For those who haven't watched the classic 1950's film, here are Bethany Dickson & Steven Van Wyk, who play Kathy Selden and Cosmo Brown respectively in the show, to tell you what SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is all about! #SinginInTheRainMNLPosted by Concertus Manila on Monday, August 3, 2015
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN will be brought to Manila by David Atkins Enterprises, Michael Cassel Group, Concertus Manila, Dainty Group, and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions. Produced by Stage Entertainment and Chichester Festival Theatre, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN will play The Theatre at Solaire Resort and Casino (ASEANA Avenue, Paranaque, Metro Manila) starting August 20. For tickets (starting at PhP1,500), call (632)891-9999 or visit ticketworld.com.ph.