Grant Almirall, lead actor of the musical Singin’ in the Rain, chats about his performing career.
What is your background?
I’m from Port Elizabeth, which is where I grew up. I have a National Diploma in Musical Theatre, which I studied at the Tswane University of Technology in Pretoria.
What inspired you to become a performer?
It was something that chose me. I did drama from the age of thirteen. I got involved in musical theatre when I was in high school and it was something I enjoyed.
Is this what you always wanted to do or did you consider other careers?
I was always drawing as a kid and if there were anything else I would’ve wanted to do, it would’ve been art; something in animation, comic books, or concept art for movies. One never loses the ability to draw so these are things I’m exploring now.
What was it like when you first started working in the industry?
I was lucky that my first job after studying was in the touring production of CATS. It was incredible to see the world and be paid!
How was it different to what you expected?
I’ve realised that you never stop working at your craft as an actor, singer, and dancer. If you ever think that you’ve ‘made it’, so to speak, and think you can sit back and relax, then you might as well stop performing.
What would someone find surprising about the work you do?
It’s a lot harder and requires a lot more discipline than people think. Also, although the shows are only two hours, there’s all the preparation that happens beforehand, like vocal warm-up and physical warm-up. If the part you play is demanding vocally or physically, your whole day is geared around saving energy or saving your voice for the show. And although you never get to bed before 1am after a show, there’s no drinking or partying because that can wreck your voice!
What’s been the biggest setback from your career?
I haven’t experienced anything like this but I did recently break my foot during a rehearsal for the Singapore season of the show, which meant I was out of the show for three months.
How did you bounce back from this?
I had the support of my producers and tried to keep positive.
What did the experience teach you?
It made me realise how everything can change in a second. As performers we rely on our physical ability for our income and it made me question what I would do if I couldn’t perform anymore.
What’s been your greatest professional highlight?
Playing the roles of Frankie Valli in Jersey boys and now Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain. I feel like I have been preparing all my life for these roles and they have taught me so much!
What do you love most about being on the stage?
The magic and joy that you pass onto an audience. It sounds a bit lame but it’s true. Nothing beats that feeling you get when an audience appreciates the work you do or a moment you’ve created on stage.
Could you tell us about your role in Singin’ in the Rain?
I play Don Lockwood, a silent movie star who falls in love with an up-and-coming actress named Kathy Selden. The role was created for Gene Kelly, who performed it in the 1950 movie.
How do you relate to your character?
Don is a movie actor so I can relate to the fact that he’s a performer, as am I.
How did you prepare for the role?
We had an extensive rehearsal period learning all the numbers. Also there is some video content in the show that we had to film prior to starting rehearsals. I am not a film or TV actor but this gave me the chance to experience what my character would go through on a movie set.
What was it like to perform in Asia?
Wonderful! The audiences in Hong Kong loved the show.
Why should audiences see this musical?
It is such a feel-good show with all the tapping and musical numbers that will bring you so much joy and make you want to splash around in the rain!
What are the dream roles you’d like to play in the future?
I would love to play Aladdin in Disney’s new musical based on the animated movie.
What are your plans for once the show’s South African run ends?
I don’t have any concrete plans. Something will present itself. Uncertainty is the nature of our industry!
Singin’ in the Rain is at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from 11 December to 10 January and at the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg from 15 January to 13 March. Book at Computicket.