16 August 2022
It took 30 years before the classic film musical ‘SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN’ made it onto the stage when it premiered in London starring Tommy Steele and Roy Castle. Following closely to the film, the show re-creates many iconic scenes and is jam-packed with great songs and dance sequences.
A complex show to stage, not least for the famous routine involving rain; the audience arrives with considerable expectations – no pressure to deliver! Add to this the need for an excellent central trio of characters as played on screen by Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds and it is vital the production doesn’t disappoint. It is pleasing to report that this production, which originated at the Chichester Festival Theatre, doesn’t.
It isn’t perfect – the first half, at ninety minutes is just too long and the ballet sequence in the second half seems out of place and adds nothing to the story – but the production values are very high and the performances by cast and orchestra are excellent.
The storyline is fun and interesting; set in Hollywood at the transition between silent and talking pictures, much joy and humour is to be had in the approach to new technologies and the pitfalls that lie therein. Pre-made segments of the movies being made are very well created and extremely funny – the production of these adds to the complications of the show, but are enormously effective here.
Despite the many sets and settings – classy work from Simon Higlett who is also responsible for the splendid costumes – director, Jonathan Church, keeps the momentum going at pace. Andrew Wright’s choreography has a fine sprinkling of style and pizzazz, befitting the period of the piece. All complemented by a first-rate group of musicians directed by Grant Walsh and excellent sound and lighting design.
Sam Lips is a smooth operator as the big star, Don Lockwood, singing and dancing with an easy manner. Ross McLaren is a fun-loving and cheeky Cosmo Brown – his ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ routine is extremely inventive and fun. Charlotte Gooch, as Kathy Selden, has a beautiful singing voice and bonds very well with Lips; theirs is a relationship you must believe in. Of all the roles in the show, that of Lina Lamont – the screech-voiced silent star who needs dubbing in the talkies – is the pick and Jenny Gayner throws everything at it. This is a wonderfully comic performance and deserves all the plaudits it receives. Elsewhere there is particularly excellent work from Sandra Dickinson as the fruity gossip columnist Dora Bailey and Alastair Crosswell as the tap-dancing voice coach.
A few small niggles. When Don and Kathy dance to ‘You Were Meant For Me’, you really want the dry-ice (or whatever they use nowadays) to flood the stage as if they are dancing on clouds – it crept on a little bit stage left and then stopped – a missed opportunity for that extra bit of magic. There is one thing that you rarely see in shows these days and that is members of the stage crew; their hard work is often disguised with them in costume or carried out in blackouts – it is a bête noire of mine and so my eyes were drawn to one of the team sporting modern jeans with a cue-sheet (or the like) tucked in their back pocket – period illusion ruined.
Despite the few reservations, this is great fun show with plenty to enjoy! Oh, and of course, the rain – well there is plenty of it and it works tremendously well. Much kudos to Sam Lips for dancing so well in it – oh, and plenty of others do as well! Huge fun.
CAST & CREATIVES
DON LOCKWOOD – SAM LIPS
KATHY SELDEN – CHARLOTTE GOOCH
COSMO BROWN – ROSS MCLAREN
LINA LAMONT – JENNY GAYNER
ZELDA ZANDERS – IMOGEN BROOKE
RF SIMPSON – DALE RAPLEY
ROSCOE DEXTER – MICHAEL MATUS
DORA BAILEY – SANDRA DICKINSON
DIALECT COACH – ALASTAIR CROSSWELL
ROD – PETER NASH
PRODUCTION TENOR – ALEX GIVEN
POLICEMAN – ROBIN KENT
BROADWAY MELODY GIRL – HARRIET SAMUEL-GRAY
SID – BEN WHITNALL
ENSEMBLE/SWING – BRIANA CRAIG, LAVINIA FITZPATRICK, RYAN GOVER, ASHLEIGH GRAHAM, THOMAS INGE, JOSH LOVELL, GEORGE LYONS, AMONIK MELACO, ASHLEIGH MORRIS, MOLLY REES HOWE, HEATHER SCOTT-MARTIN, MEGAN SPEIRS, ELLIE MAY WILSON
BASED ON THE MGM FILM – SCREENPLAY BY BETTY COMDEN AND ADOLPH GREEN
SONGS BY NACIO HERB BROWN AND ARTUR FREED
DIRECTOR – JONATHAN CHURCH
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – GRANT WALSH
CHOREOGRAPHER – ANDREW WRIGHT
SET & COSTUME DESIGN – SIMON HIGLETT
LIGHTING DESIGN – TIM MITCHELL
SOUND DESIGN – GARETH OWEN
PRODUCTION PHOTO – JOHAN PERSSON