If new film The Artist uses a silent movie to describe the transition to ‘talkies’ in the late 1920s, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain utilises the more progressive medium to do the same. It has quite rightly become a classic, and when a stage version first appeared in 1983 the most surprising fact was that one hadn’t come sooner.
Jonathan Church’s current production premiered in Chichester last year, and remains fairly true to the film. If the tremendous musical numbers do not quite match the standard of those presented on screen, it should be remembered that these routines aren’t filmed over several days, with the best bits spliced together. This means that in Good Morning the main trio step onto and over the sofa (or bench in this instance) swiftly and perfectly every night, while in Make 'em Laugh it even becomes a joke that this Cosmo fears doing the action that landed Donald O’Connor in hospital during filming.
The choreographer Adam Cooper plays the Gene Kelly role of Don Lockwood with panache, and if his voice might not be strong enough for some West End roles, it is certainly pleasing enough for this. As his sidekick, Cosmo Brown, Daniel Crossley has a quiet charisma and good sense of comic timing, while from amongst the minor principles David Lucas’s tap dancing Dialect Coach stands out. The highest accolades, however, go to Scarlett Strallen as Cathy Selden who combines fluid dancing with a radiant voice, and whose performance of You Are My Lucky Star is truly heart stealing.
But the highlight of the show is undoubtedly the Singin’ in the Rain routine in which tons of water fall on the stage, and just a little on the audience (the risk of being splashed is explained to anyone booking in the first five rows)! All credit to the stage version for not being tempted to turn this solo routine into an exuberant ensemble number, for part of the thrill of the original lay in waiting for a chorus that never materialised. When, however, the song is reprised during the curtain call, it becomes an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, and consequently provides the perfect ending to a – quite literally – splashing evening.
Booking until 29 September 2012. Tickets: 0844 412 4656 or from the Singin’ in the Rain website.
Photo: Daniel Crossley as Cosmo Brown, Adam Cooper as Don Lockwood and Scarlett Strallen as Cathy Selden.