Songs: Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Original Screenplay: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Director: Jonathan Church
From the first note, we are transported back to the 1920s to Monument Pictures where we are offered a night of glitz and glamour amongst the stars of the silver screen. What ensues is a captivating night of song and dance performed masterfully by the entire ensemble.
What makes Singin’ in the Rain sing are the performances of the leading cast, Sam Lids as Don Lockwood, a fantastic leading man full of charm and talent; Ross McLaren as Cosmo Brown, the leading man’s best friend, his comedy and personality bring much joy to the stage; their on-stage chemistry makes us truly believe that we are watching best friends who have been through it all together. And our leading ladies match them word for word and step for step. Charlotte Gooch as Kathy Selden, Lockwood’s new love interest and starlet has a captivating presence and a powerful voice. And Faye Tozer as Lena Lamont, Lockwood’s on-screen partner who manages to expertly get under our skin with her self-glorification and nasally and grating voice. She is wonderful at making herself sound dreadful, truly talented. But whether our principals are on stage or off we are never short of star power as the rest of the ensemble are flawless, always on time and never missing a mark, always bringing added depth and spectacle to the stage.
But what allows this spectacle to happen is the set design and the choreography. Simon Higlett and his team achieve so much with so little, a simple set that works for the bright lights of a film studio and backlot for the dim and moody city streets with the titular rain pouring. On the stage are wheels and levers that can be manipulated by the actors creating the illusion that they can alter the set for themselves, adding lights or fog for effect on stage.
Choreography is helmed by Andrew Wright and though the songs may already be memorable and the dances recognisable, the entire ensemble gives their all and brings new life to them. The timings and coordination of such a large ensemble are near flawless, and the use of elements of the set like benches adds to the spectacle. The use of props like umbrellas and telephone wires is mostly excellent; there are a couple of dropped props and even a broken one but that can’t detract from the overall effect of the choreography. A bonus of the choreography is the joy on the faces of the dancers as they splash the first five rows of the audience during the titular Singin’ in the Rain track.
Robert Scott and his orchestra bring the classics back to life once more, be it Good Morning or Make ‘em Laugh the music just adds that finishing touch that is needed to make the performance complete. A couple of incidences where the music overpowered the singing is all that tried to mar an otherwise faultless performance.
Overall Singin’ in the Rain remains one of the all-time great singalong shows and this new cast and crew do an exceptional job carrying on the legacies of the on-screen cast with all the same passion and charm that the original film gave us seventy years ago.
What a 70th-anniversary celebration!
Runs Until 16 April 2022 and on tour