MusicalNorth WestReview

Singin’ in the Rain – Liverpool Empire

Reviewer: Rebecca Cohen

Writers: Betty Comden & Adolph Green

Songs: Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed

Director: Jonathan Church

During the Summer heatwave, there has never been a better time for Singin’ in the Rain to come splashing (quite literally) into Liverpool.

This touring production, directed by Jonathan Church, is the critically acclaimed 1952 musical comedy movie brought to the stage. It has all the much-loved songs, one-liners and magic that made the original film such a success, with a few surprises thrown in to keep it fresh. The story is based around the rise of talking pictures and the efforts one studio has to go to to transform their current silent film into an all singing, all dancing musical. This comes with its own set of challenges when the leading lady of the movie, Lina Lamont, has a voice that does not match her exterior beauty. The leading trio, Don Lockwood, Kathy Selden and Cosmo Brown, together come up with an ingenious plan that will see Selden save their latest movie, The Dancing Cavalier, from being a box office flop.

With the iconic trio Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds as the movie protagonists, Casting Director Stuart Burt Cog had quite the challenge of finding a Lockwood, Selden and Brown for the stage. Audiences coming to this show naturally have the original cast in their mind and that comes with a huge level of risk if the new cast don’t meet their expectations. But while there is a faithfulness to the movie’s stars, Sam Lips as Lockwood, Charlotte Gooch as Selden and Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton as Brown do not just try to simply replicate them. They bring their own je ne sais quoi to the roles and work phenomenally together to sing, dance and act their hearts out – each one of them giving 100% and bouncing off each other’s energy.

Lips’ vocals aren’t always flawless and Gooch can sometimes be a little screechy for Selden, but these small moments are more than made up for with their overall performance. In particular, Lip does not disappoint with the title song, his dancing on an incredible stage set-up creating an unforgettable piece of stage history. But it is Clifton as the loveable Cosmo who ultimately steals the show. He’s faultless. He never falters from his characterisation for a second and he has that star quality where you can’t take your eyes off him when he is on the stage. Numbers where he is at the forefront – including Fit as a Fiddle, Make ‘Em Laugh and Moses Supposes – have an infectious energy that absolutely raise the roof and make you want to watch them all over again. Jenny Gayner also deserves a special mention, with her comedic portrayal of the irritating Lamont.

At the heart of this production is dance and choreographer Andrew Wright has got it just right with his intricate and engaging Broadway ensemble numbers, including some wonderful tapping. Within the cast are the creme de la creme of dance talent and the very final reprise of Singin’ in the Rain absolutely proves that. Set and lighting also play a huge part in this show’s success, including the intuitive way the creatives behind the scenes manage to bring the big screen to the stage.

Overall, this is a show that will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face – it’s faithful, without being a carbon copy, and has a high energy that will leave you with that glorious feelin’ that gets Lockwood splashing and singing his way through the streets.

Runs until Saturday 25 June 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

A splashing success

The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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