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A CurtainUp London London Review
Singin’ in the Rain

What's the first thing an actor learns? The show must go on! Come rain, come shine, come snow, come sleet, the show MUST go on! "Cosmo
Singin’ in the Rain
Company (Photo: Manuel Harlan)
Jonathan Church’s well received production of Singin’ in the Rain from Chichester comes into London’s famous musical theatre, The Palace. Adam Cooper, once a lead at the Royal Ballet, takes on the role of Don Lockwood, the Hollywood star caught up in the transition to talkies in Hollywood in the late 1920s which is topically the theme of the current movie The Artist. The original movie from 1952 is a classic with the famous “Singin’ in the Rain” number where Gene Kelly twirls his umbrella through a rainy street and lands in puddles.

The last London production I saw, of Singin’ in the Rain, from the West Yorkshire Playhouse at the National Theatre in London celebrated the sheer tackiness of early film making but this production is altogether more polished with its state of the art wet scenes and black and white movie footage of the musical’s principals on celluloid in period looking film with primitive sound. Though tuneful, some of the musical numbers, strike me as a bit old hat and certainly most of the audience looked as if they might have enjoyed the Gene Kelly movie in the 1960s if not in the 1950s. The old hat of course does not apply to the title song which is a classic, doesn’t age and is worth the price of a ticket for the waterfest.

The rainy scenes at the end of Acts One and Two are fabulous. The rain is torrential; the dance, state of the art, and the look of sheer glee as Adam Cooper as Don Lockwood sizes up the front row as he prepares to kick huge puddle after huge puddle in their direction is brilliant. This show becomes a big water game and as much fun as playing with a Supersoaker water submachine gun on a warm sunny day.

While Scarlett Strallen is Don’s love interest, the perfectly sweet voiced heroine Kathy, Katherine Kingsley takes on the fabulous looking Lina Lamont whose Bronx speaking voice is most like one of those squeaky toys you buy in a pet shop. She keeps this disaster of a vocal register throughout and is to be commended because we know she is really a lead songstress. One could criticise screenplay authors Betty Comden and Adolph Green here for their one sided characterisation of the spoilt villainess whose voice talkies is exposing but she gets a tremendously appreciative hand from the audience at the curtain call.

This is Adam Cooper’s show with his fabulous tap dancing and tall stage presence, in his white wool coat, he is every inch the Hollywood star. However his singing voice raised a question for me. Daniel Crossley’s cheeky chappie Cosmo is somewhat toned down compared to the movie but together Don and Cosmo illustrate their lifelong friendship as they made their way up in show business from vaudeville to films. Together their comic dance routines in stripey suits with silly hats pulled over their ears are amusing.

There is good support too from Michael Brandon as a cigar wielding movie mogul. Is it really necessary for authenticity to make the audience breathe in cigar smoke? The other nasal assault is the chlorine from the water. Sandra Dickinson is Dora Bailey, the Hollywood columnist who tells us what we are looking at and the latest gossip.

Of the musical numbers, “Good Morning” is relentlessly and infectiously cheery and the love duets “You Were Meant for Me” and “Would You” pretty ballads. There is Andrew Wright’s choreography with colourful umbrellas but the Broadway Melody ballet makes us glad the once compulsory ballet number is left out of modern musicals. I am finding it difficult to explain why this production of Singin’ in the Rain did not totally charm and fill me with wonder. I think the romance between Don and Kathy was not as convincing as a big West End musical needs to be. The musical numbers of course were written before the musical so the tie into the plot is imperfect which we notice less in the movie. The show stopping number is prosaically that, the wonderfully wet finale.

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Singin’ in the Rain
Based on the MGM film
Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Directed by Jonathan Church

Starring: Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley, Scarlett Strallen, Kathryn Kingsley, Michael Brandon, Sandra Dickinson
With: Peter Forbes, David Lucas, Ebony Molina, Brendan Cull, NMancy Wei George, David Birch, Danielle Crockford, Matthew Croke, Jennifer Davidson, Flora Dawson, Jaye Juliette Elster, Luke Fetherston, Gemma Fuller, Francis Haugen, Daniel Ioannou, Peter Le Brun, Charlie Martin, Scott Mobley, Gillian Parkhouse, Sherrie Pennington, Lisa Ritchie, Jack Wilcox
Children: Thomas Holmes/Joe Wolstenholme/Joshua Beaney Ford, Jack Butcher/Jude Loseby/Redmand Rance
Choreography by Andrew Wright
Design: Simon Higlett
Dance Arrangements, Musical Supervisor and Musical Director: Gareth Valentine
Sound: Matt McKenzie
Video Designer: Ian William Galloway
Lighting: Tim Mitchell
Musical Direction: Robert Scott
Additional Orchestrations: Larry Blank
Running time: Two hours 40 minutes including one interval
Box Office: 0844 755 0016
Booking to 29th September 2012
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 16th February 2012 performance at The Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue London W1V 8AY (Tube:Leicester Square)

Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Overture (Company)
  • Fit As a Fiddle (Don and Company)
  • You Stepped Out of a Dream (Don and Company)
  • All I Do (Kathy and Girls of the Coconut Grove)
  • You Stepped Out of a Dream [reprise] (Don)
  • Make ‘Em Laugh (Cosmo and Company)
  • Shall We Dance? (Bobby and Polly)
  • Beautiful Girls (Production Tenor and Company)
  • You Are My Lucky Star (Kathy)
  • You Were Meant for Me (Don and Kathy)
  • Moses Supposes (Don, Cosmo and Diction Coach)
  • Moses Supposes [reprise] (Company)
  • Good Morning (Don, Cosmo and Kathy)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (Don)
  • Act Two
    • Entr’acte
    • Good Morning [reprise] (Company)
    • Would You (Kathy and Don)
    • What’s Wrong with Me? (Lina)
    • Broadway Melody (Don and Company)
    • But Not For Me (Polly)
    • Would You [reprise] (Lina)
    • You Are My Lucky Star [reprise] (Don and Company)
    • Singin’ in the Rain (Company)
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