Thursday, 20 March 2014

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (UK Tour) Review March 2014

Chichester Festival Theatre have produced some excellent productions in recent years - including Sweeney Todd, Another Country soon to open at the Trafalgar Studios, The Pyjama Game opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre and Cameron Mackintosh's revival of Barnum which is about to embark on a UK tour. Singin' In The Rain enjoyed success in Chichester in 2011, the West End in 2012 and now a tour of the UK and Ireland is making a splash in Birmingham. 

Singin' In The Rain tells the story of the first Hollywood musical, when the silver screen found its voice and left silent movies - and some of its stars – behind. This show leaves none of it's stars behind and from the outset you are whisked away to the Hollywood glamour of 1920's Los Angeles. The magic of the MGM musicals is truly at the heart of the show - I don't recall a time when I've ever been so enchanted at the theatre, which is easily done with the grandeur of Jonathan Church's production.

Before you can talk about anything more, the choreography by Andrew Wright must be credited for taking the show from one that looks great to one that is great - and so full of energy. Even without the rain these dancers were dripping, with sweat. Scenes that are concentrated heavily with dialogue benefit greatly from an injection of incredibly creative, complex and breathtaking routines. The tap is fast and furious, both the dance kind and the water kind. 14,000 litres of soak the stage (and the first few rows of the auditorium) in a spectacular finale - a downpour that provokes a well earned standing ovation.

James Leece as Don Lockwood

Following in the soggy footsteps of Gene Kelly is James Leece as Don Lockwood. A charming performance, Leece is great to watch, particularly when splashing around in the title song or when together with Amy Ellen Richardson who is a delight as Kathy Selden. The perfect face of Hollywood glamour, Richardson excels not only in her irresistible presence but is in fine voice throughout.

It is Make Em Laugh that perhaps receives the loudest applause for a dry routine, perfectly executed within split seconds of comic timing, the incredible Stephane Anelli is difficult to move your attention from as the buffoonish Cosmo Brown, relishing the role for all it's worth. Also scene-stealing is Faye Tozer ("from Steps") as movie star Lina Lamont. With a ghastly shrill voice she earns raucous laughs with her song What's Wrong With Me? - ironically, the character can't sing and the fact that Tozer isn't given the opportunity to showcase her vocal talent here is somewhat of a shame.

Faye Tozer as Lina Lamont

The story may induce times where you're left thinking "just hurry up and rain!" but in it's entirety you can't possibly have seen this show better than it it's presented here. There is an incredible orchestra that guide you through an evening of Hollywood glamour presented only by the most dynamic ensemble.

Go on, splash the cash on a ticket to the show that showers you with nothing but pure talent and class. Book tickets online here - runs until Saturday 5 April at Birmingham Hippodrome. 

View the show's trailer:

Cast List: James Leece, Amy Ellen Richardson, Stephane Anelli, Maxwell Caufield, Faye Tozer, Jacqueline Clarke, Paul Grunert, Luke Dowling, Jenny Legg, Kim Strommen, Abigail Brodie, Adam Denman, Rebecca Fennelly, Olivia Fines, Lauren Hall, Aimee Hodnett, Nia Jermin, Sammy Kelly, Joshua Lovell, Matthew Malthouse, Phil Marriott, Tom Partridge, Tom Woods, Albey Brookes, Matt Crandon, Lucy James, Soeli Parry

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