Theatre Review: Singin’ In The RainPosted: December 20, 2013
Singin in the Rain is one of my all time favourite movies, it’s a wonderfully charming and funny movie about the early days of talking pictures and boasts some cracking tunes, a quartet of brilliant central performances (Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Jean Hagen) and, of course, the iconic routine to the title song. So, a stage version was always going to struggle to match the classic film version.
That’s not to say that the show I caught last night at the Millenium Centre isn’t worth checking out, it’s great fun and a damn fine way to spend an evening.
The plot is the same as the movie, Don Lockwood (Matthew Malthouse) is a massive silent movie star, having started out as a dancer with his buddy Cosmo Brown (Stephane Anelli) and has been paired in several films with the actress Lina Lamont (Faye Tozer, formerly of pop band Steps). For publicity purposes they pretend to be off screen lovers, despite the fact Don can’t stand her.
Don meets and falls for Kathy Seldon (Amy Ellen Richardson), who wants to be a stage actress and who dismisses film acting. They run into each other when Kathy performs at a party as a dancer, much to Don’s amusement.
Talking pictures arrive and they have a problem, while Don is fine, Lina’s loud, shrill and trashy voice doesn’t fit with her image. Worse, an advanced screening of their first talking picture goes disastrously and leaves them a laughing stock. They hit on the idea to turn the movie into a musical, with Cosmo coming up with a plan for Kathy’s voice to be dubbed over Lina’s performance.
But will it come off, and can they keep it hidden from Lina, who hates Kathy?
The show captures the film’s humour brilliantly and by the use of a large drop down screen they can include the hilarious failed screening. I laughed out loud several times and Faye Tozer should be applauded for her work as Lina, capturing the character’s shrill voice wonderfully and being suitably irritating. Her solo performance is a treat and it takes genuine to sing badly so well.
The rest of the cast were unknown to me, save Maxwell Caulfield (Empire Records, Grease 2, Casualty) as the studio boss but they all acquit themselves rather well.
Gene Kelly has some big dancing shoes to fill, and Matthew Malthouse struggles to at times, but he’s a fine dancer and a charming presence on stage. The best of the bunch however is Stephane Anelli as Cosmo, the scene stealing comic relief, he gets some of the script’s best gags and handles the role extremely well. His big moment, the “Make ’em Laugh” is wonderful, with Anelli showing a real knack for slapstick and really goes for it.
Unfortunately as the female lead Amy Ellen Richardson is a bit of a damp squib, never really capturing the character of Kathy’s moxie, and her constant smile during the musical numbers seemed a trifle forced. But she does have a good voice and holds her own in the dance numbers.
The stage design is ingenious, and the direction is smart and slick, leading to a smooth performance filled with extremely well done dance numbers. Lots of fun and, like the movie, a real feelgood experience. 8.5/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.