Based on the MGM film the stage production of Singin’ In The Rain is set in Hollywood at the end of the silent picture era, focusing on romantic hero Don Lockwood, his comic sidekick Cosmo Brown and aspiring actress Kathy Seldon and Lockwood’s on-screen leading lady, Lina Lamont, who may have a face for silent films but a voice that won’t win her stardom in the 'talkies'.
It's an ambitious show to mount in any space, let alone the intimate studio beneath the Broadway Theatre in Catford. The creative team have done a splendid job with a set that works efficiently to transform quickly from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to the sets at Monumental Pictures. The choreography and direction are both first class, making excellent use of the space and the talented cast.
There are four pivotal roles in this show and it relies on them all being cast well. Shimi Goodman’s Don, the dashing and romantic lead, is played with a well balanced mix of self-confidence and conceit; he is a looker, a hoofer and boy can he sing! Steven McGlynn is a natural as Cosmo Brown complete with firework-like enthusiasm, precise comic timing and great tap dancing.
Jemma Alexander’s Kathy Seldon wins Don’s heart and that of the audience. She was feisty when fending off Don as he jumped in her car to avoid his fans, vulnerable as she auditioned for Head of the Studio, and tender as she sang “Would you”. Kathy’s adversary for Don’s affections, Lina Lamont is played with a vast sense of self-importance and comic indignance by Betsey Pennington. I loved the Miss Piggy-like voice although some phrases were a little rushed and hard to discern. Her rendition of “What’s wrong with me?” was excellently executed, remaining perfectly in character.
All the numbers are terrifically performed by the talented cast, each of whom plays their individual character with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose, complete with period detailed choreography and beautiful costumes. The movie scenes in particular are funny and well done. The show's two biggest numbers, “Good Morning” and the title number are both superbly performed, the latter complete with a torrential downpour and some very clever effects to make the rain feel more three-dimensional.
For me, Dora Bailey needs to be more acerbic and cutting to avoid setting the show off to a slightly slow start, but that may be due to needing to balance the sound in this small space. Singin’ In The Rain, is a feel good show and this wonderful production delivered that in abundance to an enthusiastic and receptive audience.
- Barry Honeycombe