SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Book by Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Songs by Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed
Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village N6 4BD To 25 January 2015.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sun 4pm.
Runs: 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8340 3488.
Review: William Russell 19 December.
Singing’ and Dancing on the Hill; the sun shines whatever the weather
It really does not get much better than John Plews’ staging of this all singing, all dancing musical about the days when Talkies came to Hollywood and live was never the same again.
The Gatehouse has a good track record in staging musicals, but opting for this particular show was undeniably ambitious. Stage versions of film musicals are risky ventures. They are totally different animals for a start. The film, arguably the greatest of all the Hollywood musicals, is perfection, and that perfection is there for all to see on DVD. A great stage show is but a memory, a great performance lives on only in what is written about.
But we can see Kelly, Reynolds, O’ Connor, Hagen and the rest any time we want at the click of a button. Comparisons can be odious. Plews, however, has paid homage to the film but done his own thing. He is blessed with a first rate cast, splendid choreography by Chris Whittaker, elegant costumes and some cleverly shot film of the movies silent and talking.
He has opted for a traverse staging, which may increase the number of seats for sale but creates some staging problems. It can cause difficulties for the actors in deciding just who they are directing their lines to and, in the case of comedy routines, who is going to get the punch line. It also creates the odd tricky sightline. But no matter if some things do not quite hit home as they do on the screen. This is one of the best productions in a long line of first rate Gatehouse musicals.
Simon Adkins as Don Lockhart makes a dashing leading man, has a good voice, can tap dance with great style, and rises effortlessly to the challenge of the title song – and he does dance in the rain. Plews has solved that little problem brilliantly. Frankie Jenna is as pretty as a picture as Kathy Seldon, the girl he falls for, sings sweetly and her high kicks are breathtaking. Thea Jo Wolfe , suitably gorgeous as the silent star Lina Lamont, mangles her vowels to perfection and Paul Harwood as Cosmo, Don’s sidekick, does the wisecracking with style. The show starts a little slowly, but comes to life when he and Don do the “Moses Supposes his toeses” routine with a suitably bewildered voice coach crisply played by Matt Jolly.
The Gotta Dance ballet from the film is impossible to do, and instead we get the terrifically well drilled ensemble and Adkins doing a frenetic tap routine. You will leave walking on air.
Don Lockwood: Simon Adkins.
Kathy Seldon: Frankie Jenna.
Cosmo: Paul Harwood.
Lina Lamont: Thea Jo Wolfe.
Roscoe Dexter: Samuel Haughton.
D.F. Simpson: Nick Barclay.
Zelda/Ensemble: Lindsay Atherton.
Miss Dinsmore/ Ensemble: Vicky Longland.
Dora/Dance Captain/Ensemble: Emily Wigley.
Rod/Sound Engineer/ Ensemble: Martin Steven Carlton.
J. Cumberland Spendrill 111/Ensemble: Will Ferris.
Policeman/ Vocal Coach/Ensemble: Matt Jolly.
Director: John Plews.
Designer: Sarah June Mills.
Lighting: Aaron Dootson.
Sound: Jon Raper.
Musical Director: Matt Ramplin.
Choreographer: Chris Whittaker.
Associate director: Zoe Ford.
Associate costume: Sarah Pollak.
Man on Screen: John Martin.
Gaspard de la Nuit: Jonathan Holby.
Lady in Waiting: Elena Thompson.
Director/Editor: Monica Swelp.
Cameraman: Chris Payne.
Composer & Orchestrator: Adam Langston.
Fight Director: Jonathan Holby.