Thursday 22 March 2018

Musical review: Singin' in the Rain at the BGET

Singin' in the Rain at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre

CLASSIC: Singin’ in the Rain is coming to Dublin from next Tuesday; below, Maxwell Caulfield and Kim Thomson in Emmerdale
CLASSIC: Singin’ in the Rain is coming to Dublin from next Tuesday; below, Maxwell Caulfield and Kim Thomson in Emmerdale

John McKeown

Dancer Cyd Charisse said: "You saved your heart for Fred Astaire, but your body for Gene Kelly." Which might serve as the motto for Jonathan Church's Chichester Festival Theatre production of the definitive Gene Kelly song-and-dance spectacular from 1952.

Andrew Wright's choreography captures the urgency and intimacy of Kelly's dance with its wide palette of styles and jazz-influenced rhythms, while Larry Wilcox and Larry Blank's orchestrations are wonderfully fresh and buoyant. The title song is, of course, the jewel in the rain-hat, but one of the great things about Church's production is that it doesn't detract from other well-known numbers.

James Leece plays silent movie actor Don Lockwood, splashing happily in the nocturnal Hollywood downpour while more sensible passersby run for cover. The song is colourfully reprised by the whole cast at the show's end, but it's Lockwood's solo performance, or rather duet with his umbrella, which creates a rainstorm of intimate magic. Leece, a trained ballet dancer, is a fine mover, but it's his tenor singing voice, smooth and vibrantly expressive, which gives the number such infectious gaiety.

Amy Richardson playing Kathy Selden, the stage actress, disdainful of the movies, who finds herself working with Lockwood at Monumental Pictures, is also blessed with a beautifully compelling singing voice. 'You Are My Lucky Star' is tremulously exquisite.

But, superb romantic leads though they both are, there can be no show-stealers in a production owned so firmly and committedly by this multi-talented cast.

Everyone stands out, almost equally. Stephane Anelli plays Cosmo, Lockwood's old song-and-dance partner, in a perpetual sizzle of jokey, campish hyperactivity. Paul Dexter does an acutely authentic slow burn as Roscoe Dexter, the movie director, while Vicky Binns comes perilously close to outshining everyone with her performance as the peroxide blonde movie star with a voice vase-shatteringly at odds with her silent screen image.

Betty Comden and Adolphe Green's screenplay, set in the late 1920s, with Lockwood and Co facing the overturning of their movie fortunes by the arrival of talking pictures, gets a full narrative beauty treatment. Simon Higlett's design, economical yet sumptuous, is in perfect accord with Tim Mitchell's period-enhancing lighting.

But moisture levels really peak when Lockwood sings and dances with such romantic abandon in a whole stageful of rainwater.

Irish Independent

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