This isn't a show I know a lot about. I have seen the film once or twice, but never from start to finish. I was keen to see this production because of the positive reviews I'd heard from theatre goers and critics alike. The bright yellow logo always caught my eye at its prominent position at the Palace Theatre in London and I knew I wanted to see it in 2013. Then the announcement came that it was closing and consequently I wouldn't have an opportunity to see it.
Another 2 announcements followed.
One was that the am-dram company I work with would be doing Singin' in the Rain next year and the other was that the London show was going on tour and coming to Cardiff.
I had to see it.
As someone seeing this pretty much for the first time, this'll be comparison free of both the film and the London show.
Sitting in the upper circle was a pretty good choice, I think (not to mention significantly cheaper). Being predominantly dance, often the best place to see it is from above to experience the impact of the more bustling dance scenes.
As usual the stunt casting of Faye Tozer, previously of the pop group Steps, made me groan and I was surprised that, of all the roles, she was playing Lina Lamont - much more of a comedy role focussing on acting and dancing, certainly not on singing. But I was pleasantly surprised. Her accent was perfectly annoying and didn't waver once, she played the comedy easily and was entirely believable as this talentless, floundering victim of the silent era (though this is clearly not a reflection of her own skills)
Matthew Malthouse was on for Don Blackwood during this performance. He is well rehearsed and comfortable in the role being an alternate, rather than an understudy. However he did sound rather out of breath toward the end of the title song. We'll forgive him that, though, given this is a solo dance in a stage saturated with water with more pouring from the flies.
It was clear that this was the scene most people were waiting for. The general audience perked up in their chairs, leaning forward over the balcony to see the front row of people getting sprayed with water being kicked from the stage. It was a special theatrical moment.
I can't help but feel, though, that because many people wanted especially to see this moment, they weren't too focussed on the rest of the show; a gripe I often have with Wales Millennium Centre in particular - the quieter, dialogue scenes get lost in audience chatter. Not a fault of the show, obviously, nor even of the venue. I just mention it because I find it bewildering. Don't they want to know the story? And, even if they already know it, don't they want to see all of this interpretation? Why spend all that money, if you're going to talk? *shrugs*
Anyway, on with the show....review.
Stephane Anelli was outstanding as Cosmo Brown; A character whose star doesn't shine as brightly as it should. Cosmo is talented but lives in the shadows, shining other people’s stars. The talent clearly comes naturally to Anelli, who unlike his character, shines as outrightly as co-star Malthouse – I’d even go so far as to say outshines. My friend pointed out that there was a slight lack of synchronisation between them, though, which may be due to the fact Malthouse is the alternate, or perhaps because Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor were so close in real life it transferred naturally to screen and cannot be replicated (ok, there's one comparison, but that's because my friend is a big fan of the film and voiced the observation).
Amy Ellen Richardson plays Kathy and managed to silence the audience as she sang her rendition of ‘Lucky Star’ In her beautiful voice - that says more than my words can.
I also have to mention Maxwell Caulfield, who played the producer R F Simpson – not a major role but I was excited to see him in this, having been a big fan of Grease 2 (people hated it, but I saw something in its cheesy terribleness)
Highlights of the show for me were, naturally, the ‘Singin’ in the Rain scene’ (particularly at the end when the whole company joins in), ‘Good Morning’ - the number which allows the 3 leads to bounce off each other and the dance number at the beginning of the second act - a visual treat from the circle. The most surprising highlight, however, was Faye Tozer's number ‘what's wrong with me’ which, in good humour, was sung terribly but performed wonderfully.
The story won’t blow you away but with the catchy tunes and the mesmerising dance scenes, you’ll be tapping and humming your way home.
Singin' in the Rain is currently touring the UK and will be heading next to Sunderland. Make sure you catch it.