Best actor award for PE man

Grant Almirall performs the iconic dance scene in the Pieter Toerien production

Being drenched pays dividends for ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ star as he scoops up second gong

After being drenched in 12 000 litres of water in the iconic Singin’ in the Rain title number, Port Elizabeth-raised performer Grant Almirall said it was all worth it after scooping the gong for best actor in a musical at the Naledi Theatre Awards in Johannesburg on Monday night.

Almirall, 38, said it was a great privilege to have been nominated alongside other respected actors.

Having cut his teeth at a Port Elizabeth drama school and performed in a string of productions in the city from the early age of 13, Almirall’s star has shone brightly ever since.

Singin’ in the Rain, a 1952 musical starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor, is set in Hollywood in the 1920s .

In the Pieter Toerien production based on the MGM film, Almirall plays Don Lockwood, a silent movie star who has a widely publicised romance with actress Lina Lamont (played by Taryn Lee-Hudson), who is convinced that their on-screen romance is for real.

“Being in Singin’ in the Rain was incredible and it was such a joyous show – to be able to portray such an iconic character was amazing,” Almirall, a former Victoria Park High School pupil, said.

“One rarely gets to showcase all you can do in terms of acting, singing and dancing.”

The actor, who trained with the city’s Rother-Swain Drama Studio, said that during the iconic dancing in the rain scene, the production used up to 12 000 litres of water which – his drought-hit Port Elizabeth family and friends will be happy to hear – was recycled and, to Almirall’s great relief, heated.

“The scene is towards the end of Act One so by that time I’m sweating, burning up, so it was sort of a welcome relief to be showered with warm water,” Almirall said.

“Playing Don and being in Singin’ in the Rain has been one of the highlights of my career.”

This is Almirall’s second best actor award, having first won in 2013 for his role as Frankie Valli in another big hit, Jersey Boys.

On the question of whether a double best actor award translated into more stage jobs, Almirall gave a hesitant no.

“It’s not necessarily the case because we get a lot of overseas people doing productions in the country,” he said.

“They don’t know or recognise these awards, nor do they Google and say they want that guy. But it’s always nice being recognised.”

Singin’ in the Rain was staged in Johannesburg and Cape Town before touring Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Almirall has, during his career, developed a knack of being the right actor and singer to have around in the case of a stage emergency.

In 2003, at the age of 23, he joined the international touring cast of Cats and, just two weeks later, was playing one of the lead roles in the hit Broadway musical in South Korea.

He found himself thrust into the role of the leader cat, Munkustrap, in Seoul after the performer playing the character developed a swollen gland and had to step out.

And then producers contacted Almirall when the lead in Singin’ in the Rain in Australia tore his calf muscle and they needed someone who knew the show to jump in quickly.

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