San Diego native Brandon Davidson is back in town to bring us some good old fashioned entertainment and a chance to see some rain in San Diego! San Diego Musical Theatre brings SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN to the Speckels Theatre stage through June 7th.
Brandon Davidson is stepping into some famous shoes as he takes on the role of Don Lockwood in this production. You know Don Lockwood, he is that iconic role played by Gene Kelly in the movie, with all the ballet, tap dancing, and yes, singing in the rain that made this movie a classic. That’s seems overwhelming for me, and all I’m doing is typing that sentence. So I had to know, how is Brandon prepping for this role?
“When I set out to do musical theatre, I studied at Boston Conservatory in college, and the shows that really inspired me were the song and dance shows like SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, CRAZY FOR YOU, 42ND STREET, and that specific tap dancing, with the 1940’s and 1950’s style music. So I guess you could say I’ve been preparing for this role for a long time,” he says with a laugh.
“The dancing is the most challenging,” Brandon says of prepping for this show. “I said to our choreographer, ‘the more I rehearse this role the more respect I have for Gene Kelly. He was amazing.’ He was a trained ballet technician but yet he created his own masculine style that was based in the ballet technique that was his own gene Kelly style. He and Fred Astaire are two of my idols, but Gene Kelly can do lifts and major ballet work, where Fred was a wonderful performer and a charmer but maybe wasn’t as much a technician as Gene was. So filling those shoes are big and I have had to dust off the ballet technique that I have had. “
Luckily, this show falls squarely into his favorite musical genre style. “I have had a lot of experience with this kind of Gene Kelly/Fred Astaire style for being in shows with Randy Skinner who choreographed WHITE CHRISTMAS and 42ND STREET, and I did 2 shows with him at Encores. Randy has given me such a solid foundation for that kind of style, because he is the one of the only ones really doing it in New York.”
“Don is a dance heavy role and it was a vehicle for Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor who both choreographed everything, so it is a play around dancing. The shows I have been working on in New York and on tour are “White Christmas” which I did on tour for five years, and shows at Encores like GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, NO NO NANETTE; old timey dance musicals. I am obsessed with Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and that whole style is in my wheelhouse.”
So what is it about this show, and this genre that captivates so many people?
“I think a lot of people know the song ‘Singing in the Rain’, and they are familiar with the songs , ‘Good Morning’, ‘Make Em Laugh’, and more, so there are those songs that people will know and it helps them connect to it. I think it really goes back to that era, those 1950’s movie musicals, it’s the Americana genre. It depicts Hollywood in the 1920’s and it is fun to look at what is happening in the movies, during the transition form the silent films to the talkies, and what the actors were doing to make these films with talking and singing in them, it has a feel good nostalgia.”
Besides being in this great show Brandon is always happy to be performing in his hometown. “I always look for opportunities to work in San Diego because my family is here. It’s going home to a vacation destination. I love working here, not only because of the city but because I am the youngest of 6 kids, and I can come and reconnect with my family, as well as bring back what I have learned artistically in NY and bring that back to San Diego.”
Brandon is not just a talented performer, but after 10 years of performing he is also in school to add something new to his resume. “After a lot of soul searching I realized that I wanted to cultivate and use the skills I have from theatre to cultivate a career to in science and medicine. Performing and singing is such a huge part of who I am, so this is a bit of an experiment and it has been a lovely way to have both the school science and performing in my life.
It was his experience in performing that inspired him to explore his chance to help other performers. “I have gone through minor injuries and watched a good friend go through a career shifting injury. So watching her go through that helped me decide to pursue a career in dance rehabilitation. I want to help dancers live up to their full potential as they work through an injury. What excites me about doing medicine I can talk to dancers on their level, I know what they are going through and doing 8 shows a week, and can help them on their level.”
Catch him and the rest of his cast “dancin’ and singin’ in the rain” at San Diego Musical Theater at the Spreckels Theatre through June 7th. For more ticket and show time information go to www.sdmt.org