MORE than 12,000 litres of water a day will cascade onto the stage of the Festival Theatre next week, when the smash hit West End musical Singin’ In The Rain splashes into town. And while some of it will be warm, some will be freezing, reveals Hollywood leading man Maxwell Caulfield.
“All the water which comes from above is warmed up, but the water that comes from below to flood the stage is not,” he explains.
“That water is kept in huge tanks out in the loading dock which, at this time of year, is icy cold. That’s the water being kicked around.”
The water is used to recreate the iconic scene from the 1952 movie in which Gene Kelly sings and dances in the rain.
In the new West End stage production, which comes to the Capital for a three-week season on Tuesday, Caulfield, best known as Miles Colby in Dynasty and more recently as the ill-fated Mark Wylde in Emmerdale, plays studio boss RF Simpson, with Steps’ Faye Tozer as starlet Lina Lamont and James Leece as Don Lockwood, Gene Kelly’s role in the MGM film.
For those unfamiliar with the piece, Don Lockwood is a silent movie star with everything he could want - fame, adulation and a well-publicised ‘romance’ with his co-star Lina Lamont. But Hollywood is about to change forever. There is rumour in the studio of a new kind of film, where the actors actually talk... and sing... and dance.
Can Don and the uniquely voiced Lina make the transition?
Recalling how he landed the role, the ever modest Caulfield says: “My very good agent pitched me for this production, hence my ridiculous billing, which implies that I’m the star of the show, whereas, really, I’m the character guy.
“I don’t even sing a song or get to dance, but I am surrounded by show-girls so I feel like I get all the perks and don’t have to do any of the work,” he laughs.
Not that the musical doesn’t keep him on his toes. “Like everybody else, I am endlessly changing my wardrobe and have multiple entrances - you miss one of those and the train can come off the track. So it’s a bit of a scramble backstage, in fact, we make a cast of 30 look like twice that.”
For Caulfield, who is married to actress Juliet Mills, Singin’ In The Rain cements his desire to return to where he started in the business.
“Although the first thing I ever did of note was a musical, the sequel to Grease, and even though the very first show I was ever in at school was a musical, The Boyfriend, I am a bit of a come lately to musical theatre,” he admits.
“Having jumped through hoops to be asked to go into the West End production of Chicago in 2007, which was a great education in musical theatre, I just thought, ‘This is ridiculous, why haven’t you been doing this for years’.”
More at home now on stage than on screen, Caulfield reveals that he is no stranger to the Capital either.
“I’ve been to Edinburgh a couple of times. Once to see our daughter at the Festival, she was in a touring production from the States, and the second time, Juliet and I played a week at the King’s in a revival of Bedroom Farce.
“The Festival was unbelievable. The sheer variety of shows was just head-spinning.”
Which begs the question, does he find himself tempted to bring a production of his own to the Fringe one August?
“Well, you know what, absolutely. It made me think that Juliet and I ought to put a two-hander together. Either that or I have to finally get off my duff and do one of the two or three one-man shows I have in mind.”
He continues, “I’ve done research on three separate situations, none of which I can talk about in case I get pipped to the post.
“That’s one of the bonuses of being on tour, I do have time on my hands to knuckle down and produce something that is worthy of maybe presenting to Festival audiences.”
Thoughtfully he adds, “Also, as you get older in this business, you better develop some kind of ‘pension’. I’ve lived out in Hollywood for longer than I care to admit, but you realise that films and television are primarily a youth driven business. I’m fast coming up on 55, so, oh boy, I gotta read the signs.”
Consequently he says he is happily coming back to the theatre, any film and TV a bonus.
“Doing the Festival would be great and, if I am wise, I will make it a two-hander, because Juliet is infinitely more accomplished,” he says gallantly, ever the gentleman.
Singin’ in the Rain, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Tuesday-15 March, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £17.50-£17.50, 0131-529 6000