It’s difficult to believe that when Singin’ In The Rain first hit movie theatres back in 1952 it received a rather lukewarm reception. Skip forward to the present day and the film has reached legendary status, and surely everyone could at least hum the do-de-de-do of the title song. The stage version (which premiered at the London Palladium with Tommy Steele in 1983) was revived by Chichester Festival Theatre in 2011 before transferring to the West End the following year.
It’s this Chichester production, reuniting director Jonathan Church and Choreographer Andrew Wright, which comes to London’s Sadler’s Wells, with a UK Tour planned for next year. The stage version closely mirrors the movie in which Gene Kelly famously danced around a lamppost, umbrella aloft, as the heavens opened.
That scene is beautifully recreated on the stage of Sadler’s Wells, with Adam Cooper (playing the lead, Don Lockwood) joyously tap dancing his way through the puddles, much to the delight of the entire audience, even the slightly sodden looking ones in the front few rows.
It might be the most well remembered scene, but Singin’ In The Rain has a great deal more to offer. Set in Hollywood’s dying days of silent movies, Don Lockwood looks set to easily transition to the ‘talkies’, but co-star Lina Lamont might not be so lucky, with a poor singing voice and a harsh Brooklyn accent that doesn’t fit the persona carefully crafted by the publicity department.
At the suggestion of Cosmo Brown, Don’s new love interest, Kathy Selden, is drafted in to provide the voice and vocals that will be dubbed over Lina Lamont’s performance. This was actually fairly prolific in the early days of Hollywood, Kathy Selden was played by Debbie Reynolds in the film version, but even Reynold’s singing voice was replaced by that of another actress, Betty Noyes.
This stage version of Singin’ In The Rain is delightfully decadent in its portrayal of Hollywood glamour, with Simon Higlett’s set design bursting with colour and brimming with art deco features. As it’s mostly set in a movie studio, there are some wonderfully comedic filmed pieces too, designed by Ian William Galloway.
Adam Cooper and Charlotte Gooch are perfectly paired as Don and Kathy, Cooper’s dance routines are breath-taking, while Gooch excels in the vocal performances. Kevin Clifton and Faye Tozer are both wonderful in their respective roles of Cosmo and Lina, despite providing much of the comic relief their performances are on point.
The second act seems to abandon the plot, featuring more of the big dance numbers instead, but the act one ‘Moses Supposes’ and ‘Good Morning’ are definite highlights. Kevin Clifton very nearly steals the show with ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ and Faye Tozer’s superb ‘What’s Wrong With Me?’ does indeed make us all laugh.
Audiences might come for that iconic title song, but they’ll leave remembering why Singin’ In The Rain has become so iconic; fabulous song and dance routines, carried off flawlessly here by an exceptional cast.