Singin’ In The Rain (review)

IT was fitting that the heavens decided to open on the first night of the iconic musical Singin’ In The Rain – just a shame that no-one told the well-dressed audience sitting in the stalls that they’d need brollies inside the auditorium!

The Hollywood version of Comden and Green’s story about the advent of talkies, which starred Gene Kelly, Donald O’Conner and Debbie Reynolds, holds a special place in the heart of everyone who has ever loved classic musicals.

The set pieces and the songs have stood the test of time and, nearly 60 years later, we still love to remember them.

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So it was with a certain affection that I looked forward to this latest production being staged at Chichester Festival Theatre as the highlight of its summer season.

It didn’t disappoint. This glorious homage to the golden age of Hollywood captures all the magic and more of the original.

Director Jonathan Church uses the venue’s thrust stage to good effect, giving it a good soaking, not once but twice with the exuberant company enjoying themselves to the full by sloshing around and thoroughly soaking the first dozen rows.

This is a five star show that we can only hope will tour the country and make an appearance at Milton Keynes or, more aptly, The Waterside, because it’s one not to be missed.

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The story is set in 1920s Hollywood when studios turned out hundreds of silent movies that played on the glamour of a handful of stars.

It was all going so well until someone invented talkies. The Jazz Singer would turn the film industry on its head and signal the death knell for those unable to compete.

Screen idols Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont were right up there but when asked to add sound to their latest blockbuster they faced one insurmountable problem – Lina’s horrendously squeaky voice.

Throw in a love story between the matinee star and an aspiring young actress plus a buddy-buddy relationship with Don and his best pal Cosmo and you have all the makings for a musical rom-com packed with old school charm.

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Sadly Adam Cooper, as Lockwood, and Daniel Crossley, as Cosmo, both lack the charisma of Kelly and O’Conner but they more than make up for it with energy and enthusiasm.

Cooper isn’t the strongest of leading men but he is a sublime dancer and perfectionist Gene Kelly would have been proud of his performance. Crossley played the clown to good effect and won the audience with his knockout rendition of Make Em Laugh.

But it was left to the ladies to steal the glory. Pretty Scarlett Strallen’s outstanding vocals and sweet innocence (even when parading in her undies) made her a good choice as Don’s love interest while Katherine Kingsley was a scene-stealer as blonde bombshell, Lamont.

The big numbers, and there are plenty, like Moses Supposes, Good Morning, Would You, Broadway Melody and the title song were stylishly performed by a handsome company of young hoofers who were obviously thrilled at being given the chance of appearing in a big Broadway show, albeit, being performed in leafy Sussex.

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The audience gave it a well deserved standing ovation that left no-one, least of all the big West End producers who were watching the show, in no doubt that there is still a huge demand for classic tap dance.

Singin’ In The Rain is playing until September. If you love your theatre or are just a fan of the old Hollywood musicals then book a mini-break or just a one-night trip to lovely Chichester for a night to remember.

Tickets and inquiries 01243 781312 or go online