playing excerpts of his work, interspersed with biographical and historical anecdotes from Patricia.
It was a magical trip, and a MAJOR highlight of my career.
Many moons ago, I grew up watching Gene on many a Sunday afternoon with my family, spending a vast majority of my childhood in Stratford Operatic Society (now Stratford Musical Theatre Company) and Stratford Music Centre, with my professional debut aged 8 with the RSC’s first collaboration (I know understand) with Opera North, Show Boat .
Musical Theatre really shaped my understanding and appreciation for music, dance and theatre
Musical Theatre really shaped my understanding and appreciation for innovation in music, dance and film, and by the time I went off to Laban I had been in 30 productions. Crikey! ‘Why didn’t you go to musical theatre school?’ I hear you cry. Well, I can sing in tune, but the timbre is not really West-End level. That is to be left to the likes of consummate professionals such as #musicaltheatremama Caroline Sheen.
Gene’s enigmatic style and performance quality is clear to anyone who is familiar with MGM’s work of the golden Hollywood era. When I reached the last year of my degree I was passionate to write my dissertation about his huge contribution to dance on film which being mainstream, academically had gone a little unnoticed. I think the big budgets and joy seemed to mask the absolute science behind creating his cinedance. The three big ones for me are of course, Singin’ In the Rain (1952), the Alter Ego sequence from Covergirl, 1944 (which was the first ever film-on-film choreography) and The Worry Song from Anchors Aweigh (1945). The latter being another first for animation and live action choreography for the first time. Of course, a fourth would also be On The Town (1949)– a first for site-specific choreography.
As well as being a law degree student, speaking an array of languages and a lover of poetry and literature, his writing on capturing the kinesthetic of movement on screen with multiple angles and shots to create the illusion of the audiences ‘collective eye’ is a testament to Gene’s fierce intelligence and creativity.
Lightning struck twice last year as the enigmatic Patricia invited me to the BFI event last November, which delved deeper into stories and artefacts – I enjoyed geek-ing out with my sister who is also a long-time Kelly fan.
I understand that like so many brilliant shows, COVID-19 has put a hold on concerts due to be held over this period, but the project is due back at the Southbank next year (after multiple global tours). I implore any musical theatre fan to catch this fantastic experience when you next get the opportunity.
All together now, ‘What a day this has been…’