MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

Singin’ in the Rain – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Sheila Stratford

Book: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Music: Nacio Herb Brown

Lyrics: Arthur Freed

Director: Jonathan Church

A romantic musical, Singin’ the in the Rain will bring sunshine to your heart. It is based on the 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film of the same name that featured Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. This is a musical with high energy, classic songs and superb dance routines. It was an acclaimed hit at Chichester Festival Theatre, the West End and Sadler’s Wells in London and is now touring nationwide.

Set in Hollywood in 1920 at the time of transition from silent movies to ‘the talkies’, Don Lockwood (Sam Lips) and Lina Lamont (Jenny Gaynor) are the glamourous feted couple of the silent screen. Lina Lamont enjoys all the fame and glamour, while Don Lockwood tries to avoid some of the fame but particularly the clutches of his co-star Lina who deludes herself that she is engaged to him. One evening, when trying to escape his fans, Don meets Kathy Selden (Charlotte Gooch), an aspiring actress. She initially mocks him for his lack of acting skills, but Don cannot get Kathy out of his mind.

The effervescent Cosmo Brown (Ross McLaren) is Don‘s good friend and confidante. Cosmo works behind the scenes in the movie industry and tells his friend he believes in the words of the song Make ‘Em Laugh and demonstrates it to his friend in a most exuberant fashion. Don encounters Kathy again at a party for Lina and the two become romantically attached, singing You Were Meant For Me.

When Monumental Pictures decides it needs to add sound to its latest film release to keep ahead of its competitors, there is a problem: Lina Lamont’s voice is not appealing or kind on the ear. Cosmo comes up with the idea that to make the current film The Duelling Cavalier more appealing it should be converted to a musical, The Dancing Cavalier, and that Kathy’s voice be dubbed over Lina’s. Lina is not happy with this idea but when she sees the reaction of her fans to her singing, Lina concedes and then attempts to destroy Kathy’s potential career while taking all the credit.

Will Don go for fame with Lina or love with Kathy? The musical is littered with hits from You Are My Lucky Star to, of course, the famous Singin’ in the Rain.

Sam Lips is on stage through out most of the performance. His singing voice never falters despite the demands of dancing. He delivers joyous, high-octane, tap-dancing performances throughout sprinkled with romantic, tender intrudes. Charlotte Gooch also gives an outstanding performance, in both dance and singing. Ross McLaren brilliantly adds a comedic and enthusiastic element to the story.

Jenny Gaynor consistently maintains the high pitched, garbled but clear diction of her character. She flounces about the stage as a true diva and anti-hero adding humour to the story. Her song What’s Wrong With Me? is a delight.

The superb performances by the main cast are supported by a great chorus. In the song Good Morning, it is a wonder that the phone lines much like a maypole do not become entangled. The harmonies and tap dancing are energising to watch. The orchestra is excellent and sound quality throughout is most impressive. It is a touring performance that does not disappoint.

Video projections of mock silent movie clips featuring Don and Lina help contextualise the realities of the great leaps that cinema has made since the 1920s and the magical enjoyment of seeing it actually raining on stage is not to be missed.

Singin’ in the Rain is not only a classic all-time great movie but a great musical too.

Runs until 23rd July 2022 before continuing on tour.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. 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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