As the snow fell thick and fast outside, musical lovers scurried excitedly into the Palace Theatre for the opening night of Singin’ in the Rain, the vintage musical that has just moved to London after a very popular run at Chichester. My visit was bittersweet – I was delighted to be experiencing this new critically acclaimed show but sad to see the back of Priscilla, the sublime musical production which lived in the Palace previously.
It is amazing to see another retro production nestling into the West End, these old classics deserve to be seen! After making our way up every flight of stairs we reached our seats, at the very top of the theatre the view down was dauntingly steep. The show started fifteen minutes late, the latest curtain up I have ever witnessed at a West End theatre, but this was soon forgotten as the cast bounced onstage with a joyful energy.
The story shows the transition from silent movie to talking pictures and the narrative is incredibly similar to the recent hit film The Artist. Visually this production is great, bright lights and a fun set give the show an immediate lift. It is obvious that the main characters are dancers who can sing rather than singers who can dance. The dancing is jaw-droppingly good, complex routines perfectly executed and performed at a staggering pace, it is very exciting to watch. Adam Cooper looks suitably suave as the stud of the show, Don Lockwood… dashing and charismatic he could have stepped straight out of the 1950s original film. With his training at the Royal Ballet he moves beautifully across the stage, his solo dance for the finale of the first half is sublime. Scarlett Strallen is the perfect vintage beauty for the part of Cathy, her voice sounds just like the stars of bygone eras, so romantic and pretty. Katherine Kingsley is hilarious as the annoying nasal-voiced diva, Lina Lamont, but my absolute favourite on the night was Daniel Crossley who gave an astounding performance as Cosmo Brown. Crossley is charismatic and witty and manages this tricky role without any problems, his rendition of the dance ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ in which he has to run up a wall and do somersaults is brilliant.
There are perhaps a few sound balance issues to iron out… Adam Cooper is often too quiet and his words are sometimes lost entirely when he sings. There are other vocal parts that need a little extra amplification. In fact I think the whole production could have been louder, the energy portrayed through the dancing needs to be matched with an equally lively sound.
The best thing about this show has to be the incredible rain that is generated at the end of both halves. A heavy shower drenches the actors, and yet they still dance, Crossley splashes about and soaks the audience in the front row, much to the delight of the rest of the crowd! For the final ten minutes every cast member comes on stage, each with a brightly coloured umbrella, it is quite a spectacle to watch them all dance so fluently in fake pouring rain!
Considering Britain’s reputation as a country where the rain is constant, I think it is about time that this show found it’s place in the West End, you will leave the theatre singing and dancing.
Singin’ in the Rain continues until, book here.