Singin' In The Rain (Tour- Bristol Hippodrome)
Singin' In The Rain will make you wish for the rain to dance through the puddles.
When a terrific comic plot, an inventive and tuneful score dazzling choreography and a rich production come together there is very little that can match a musical for sheer joy. Singin' In The Rain, coming to Bristol towards the end of a long UK tour, lights up the Hippodrome with enough dancers splashing joyfully in the rain, to leave even those of us basking in these sunny climes, wishing for rain so we too could spin ourselves around a lamppost.
For those who haven't seen Stanley Donen's 1952 movie, the top film musical of them all according to Sight and Sounds last movies list, we find ourselves in 1927 and the beginning of the ‘talkies' era. Don Lockwood (James Leece) and Lina Lamont (Vicky Burns)are the big movie stars who find themselves having to try to adjust as they face a world where their words have become as important as the facial expressions. But when you havea voice like Lamont's a solution will have to be found.
Leece has been cast for his dancing and whilst this is technically strong it lacks freedom and expressiveness. At the heart of a great production there is an underpowered central performance which is a shame. The rest of the cast sparkle however. Byrns nails every laugh as the blonde bombshell whose voice is a hazard to the movie screen. In a first for the Hippodrome, a screechy shouting performance of What's Wrong With Me brings the house down. Amy Ellen Richards is sweet and dances a storm as Kathy Seldon but the chemistry between her and Leech doesn't fully come alive. Stephane Annelli steals the show right out from all of them as Cosmo Bown, Lockwood's best friend. He is a true triple theat and Make ‘Em Laugh, performed with gusto as he chucks himself around the stage under the inspired choreography of Andrew Wright is much funnier then the film version's admittedly restricted version.
Jonathan Church's production is slick, polished and delightfully paced. The ensemble come across with individuality and backstories which is the sign of a good director at work. And when they dance Wright's career best to date choreography the temperature rises a few degrees. Ensembles normally get ignored by reviewers, the one working so hard here are at the centre of why this is an excellent production. There won't be a better musical coming to Bristol this year. You may not miss the rain during this rather glorious summer we're having, but you'd be mad to miss this.
Singin' In The Rain plays at Bristol Hippodrome until the 9th August before touring to Glasgow, Bradford and Southampton until the 5th October.