Choreographing a full-length musical is a tough task for anyone.
But when you’re 20 years old and the much-loved Singin’ in the Rain is your first real choreography job, the pressure’s on.
“I don’t like thinking of how big Singin’ in the Rain actually is. That’s a lot of pressure,” said Jana Morrison, 20, choreographer of Kaleidoscope Theatre’s latest production. “I’m pretty young, and I hope that people will enjoy this new, fresh Singin’ in the Rain that I’ve interpreted and given to my dancers. It’s a little scary.”
The Winnipeg native is a very recent grad of the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Morrison’s talents were discovered by Kaleidoscope director Pat Rundell last fall when she choreographed the College’s performance of Molière’s ***The Misanthrope***.
Morrison describes the process of choreography, and ultimately teaching the moves to the performers, as a sort of gift.
“I just love to create a dance that feels good in my body, and give it to the dancers. It’s kind of like a gift for them to feel good doing it, as well,” she said.
To prepare for Singin’ in the Rain, Morrison watched and re-watched the 1952 film, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, intent on pulling some key elements from the on-screen dancing.
“It’s not my favourite thing to just take something and copy it. There are some moves people will recognize from the movie or stage production that I put in there, which are great, but I really tried to make it fresh and give it my own flair,” she said.
“(To choreograph) I just need to listen to the songs and I find any hints that you might need that are key to the song, moves you can put in there. I do research, watch a bunch of videos that are of the similar style, and then (the dance) kind of comes out of your body.”
Singin’ in the Rain is the 1920s-set story of Hollywood’s shift from silent films to the talkies. Griffin Lea, Joseph Goble and Tara Britt head up the cast in Kaleidoscope’s production.
Director Rundell is also young, at just 23 years old. This is his directorial debut, after having trained at The American Musical & Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.
Kaleidoscope aims to raise $50,000 to help support the theatre program.
Shows run April 12 to 14 at the McPherson Playhouse. Tickets ($60) are available from the Royal McPherson box office or by visiting rmts.bc.ca.
“It’s such a timeless musical that anyone – young, old, musical lover or not – will absolutely love. It’s super fun, super beautiful,” Morrison said.