Often hailed as one of the greatest musicals ever made, this production of Singin’ in the Rain had some large shoes to fill. It succeeded. Packed with cheer, and set against a backdrop of the glitz and glamour of 20’s Hollywood, this show offers lively musical numbers, swinging choreography, and some good, clean slapstick.
The story follows Don Lockwood, a renowned silent film star, and his, initially rather haughty, soon-to-be girlfriend Kathy Selden as they dance their way across the stage, dodging the traps of narcissistic would-be lovers, towards a happy, if slightly damp, ending.
The characters were really well cast. Tim Flavin was perfect in his role as Don Lockwood, the audience loved him and his easy Hollywood smile. Jessica Punch does well as Kathy Selden, and Amy Griffiths was great as the insipid, ear-splitting hurricane, Lina Lamont. However, my favourite performance of the night has to be Graeme Henderson’s, who gave song, dance, comic relief, and the occasional sprinkle of sarcasm, in buckets as Don's friend Cosmo Brown.
The singing was brilliant with the strong voices of Flavin, Punch, and Henderson all being met with enthusiastic applause. Even Griffiths’ grating, rather raunchy, ode was met with general appreciation. The choreography too was superb with Flavin and Henderson bringing massive amounts of energy to the stage. However to lavish too much praise on the leads would be to ignore the fantastic job done by the ensemble who, as a group, swept across what was, in the end, probably a very slippery stage.
The final thing to praise would be the set, with the subtle use of lighting, projectors, and finally, the coup de grâce, water in reproducing Gene Kelly’s fabled watery caper: there was actual singing, in actual rain!
I did hear one or two people criticising the show as a glorified pantomime as I hummed my way out of the theatre. They were right in a sense: it definitely wasn’t Hamlet and the plot wasn’t exactly complex. Then again it was a musical and that means fun, colour, song, and dance, and it had lots of each.
So, if you’re a miserable, pretentious sod, stay away: this is not the show for you. But if you’re looking for something that will leave you smiling and dancing the entire way home, look no further.
Singin' in the Rain plays at the Nottingham Theatre Royal from 27 February to 7 March 2009.