SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Birmingham Hippodrome, Tuesday 7th June 2022
I maintain that the 1952 Gene Kelly-Debbie Reynolds film is a pinnacle of cinematic endeavour, so any stage production seeking to emulate this piece of perfection has an impossible task ahead. This large-scale touring production originating from Chichester Festival Theatre comes pretty close!
A spoof of the advent of ‘talking pictures’, this story of Hollywood glamour is funny, romantic and spectacular. This show doesn’t stint on the large production numbers. Andrew Wright’s exuberant choreography delivers period, verve and character.
Sam Lips makes quite a splash as leading man Don Lockwood, cocksure and on the right side of cheesy. A lovely crooner, Lips can also hoof it – the iconic title song which closes the somewhat lengthy first act is everything you want it to be. As Don’s love interest, the sunny, funny Kathy Selden, Charlotte Gooch is practically perfect, while Jenny Gayner is hugely entertaining as villainous diva Lina Lamont – you can’t bring yourself to hate her.
Stealing the show, though, is the indefatigable Ross McLaren as Don’s sidekick Cosmo Brown. McLaren lights up the stage, combining terpsichorean talent with comedic flair. His Make Em Laugh brings the house down, and his double act with Lips delivers some of the funniest moments of the show. You can’t take your eyes off him.
Director Jonathan Church doesn’t miss a detail. The filmed excerpts are a delight, and there’s a light touch to the comedy across the board. The musical numbers are wonderful. Some standouts include All I Do Is Dream Of You, Good Morning, and the extended, luxuriant Broadway Melody sequence, where the production values go through the roof. Simon Higlett’s costumes bring a rainbow after the downpour.
The infectious score is played by a tight-knit orchestra with Grant Walsh at the helm, the music so evocative of that bygone age.
An absolute joy, a celebration of showbiz, and pure, unadulterated fun, the show’s message is to enjoy yourself whatever life chucks at you. Sing in that rain!
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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