Singin’ In The Rain is one of the most iconic shows in musical theatre history, and never fails to please. The 1952 film is still incredible, with memorable sequences like Good Morning – and its attendant stories of Debbie Reynolds literally collapsing on set amidst repeated takes and expected high standards – and, of course, the title song.
The stage show has itself been around for nearly 40 years; this is the second time I have seen it, and it still maintains its joy, full of vivid colour. The cast of Sam Lips, Charlotte Gooch and Jenny Gaynor, along with Strictly’s Kevin Clifton as Cosmo Brown, are splendidly cast in Jonathan Church’s vibrant production.
It’s set around the time when silent films are transitioning into the ‘talkies’, and all the big studios are struggling to adapt. Don and Lina, both huge silent movie stars repeatedly cast as a romantic couple, are about to step into the unknown territory of a musical. Trouble is on the horizon when Lina and Don are obliged to speak and sing. Only Don has the voice to carry it off: Lina, despite a lot of practice with an elocution coach, sounds awful. When Kathy, a young aspiring actress, is hired to record over her voice, fireworks start.
Comedy ensues, with the hysterical setting-up of the mic for Lina’s parts and the numerous ways she messes up each take. Each set-piece is enacted seamlessly by these actors, and the supporting cast are non-stop energy until the end. The dream sequence is particularly well executed, with special praise due for Harriet Samuel-Gray, who reprises the film’s Cyd Charisse role and evokes the same sultry sensuous appeal that Charisse did in the movie.
Add, of course, a stunning stage set and the classic MGM musical numbers: Good Morning, Make ‘Em Laugh (thankfully without a real wall!), Moses Supposes and the toe-tapping Singin’ In The Rain itself. Advance publicity claims that 14,000 litres of water is poured onto the stage for each performance: it’s an amazing sequence to watch, and yes, if you are in the first few rows you may get a bit wet… but that’s all part of the fun.
Energetic, charming, brilliant chemistry on stage and a joy to watch. Everyone left the theatre with a smile on their face humming along to one of the classics.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Tue 24 May
Singin’ In The Rain is on until Sat 28 May. Tickets: £19-£68. Info: here
words ANTONIA LEVAY
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