Book: Betty Comden &Adolph Green
Music: Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics: Arthur Freed
Director: Elizabeth Newman
Reviewer: Carol Lovatt
The New Vic’s latest co-production with Bolton’s Octagon Theatre of Singin’ in the Rain is a show not to be missed. Full of memorable songs written by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, laugh-out-loud antics, clever choreography plus heaps of love and romance, this musical is pure theatrical class.
Based on the film of the same name starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds and written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Singin’ in the Rain is a feel-good musical about the demise of the silent film industry and the coming of the talkies. It is also a comical swipe at the shenanigans of the Hollywood film industry where style and a pretty face are often sacrificed for substance and talent.
It is exciting to see so many new faces performing at the New Vic Theatre and the talent is impressive and extensive. Matthew Croke, playing the lead role of Don Lockwood, so famously executed by the legendary Gene Kelly, does not disappoint in comparison. Croke puts his own stamp on the multitude of tap, ballet and contemporary dance techniques all incorporated into a dazzling choreographic feast. The seminal scene performed in the rain – where the stage really does get very wet – gives Croke an opportunity to display his understanding of the complexity of dance to convey emotion and character in a language equally as important as the words of the song – outstanding
Eleanor Brown as Kathy Seldon, exudes a warm beam of light as a singer with a beautiful voice and a desire to make it big in the movies through sheer talent and determination. It is inevitable that when Lockwood and Seldon come together both sparks and hearts fly. On the other hand, the very pretty but rather talentless Lina Lamont, played with brilliant comical timing by Sarah Vezmar, has other ambitions for Kathy and they don’t involve anything remotely favourable. Lamont has her eyes set on Lockwood and other suitors would do well to leave town. The narrative throughout this musical is therefore both engaging and genuinely funny. Christian Edwards as Cosmo Brown is another dancer and performer who keeps the audience enthralled with his repertoire of musical ability and fancy footwork. Again, an actor with first class comic timing.
Singin’ in the Rain is of course a vehicle for some great tunes as much as for dance and dramatics and there are plenty to enjoy including; Make ‘Em Laugh, You Were Meant For Me, Good Morning, You Are My Lucky Star, You Stepped Out Of A Dream and of course the titular track. As with many of the productions at The New Vic, the audience gets up close and personal with the musicians who are all multitasking in the cast under the baton of Richard Reeday. Elizabeth Newman’s intimate and accessible direction makes this production so stirring Impressive. A mention must also go out to Sian Williams, the choreographer, as the interpretation and implementation of the dance on such a small stage is impressive to say the least. Williams has given this production the WOW factor in spades. Impressive.
Runs until Saturday 16 July, 2016