Singin’ In The Rain is often hailed as the greatest movie musical ever made. Released in 1952 and starring the extraordinary Gene Kelly, the film continues to captivate and delight.
Fast-forward 30 years, and a gentleman named Tommy Steele had the tremendous idea to adapt and direct it for the stage, and so it opened at the London Palladium in 1983. Much to the relief of fans around the world, it was a sensation, and continues to be heralded as one of the most successful movie-to-stage adaptations ever.
The musical stays true to its movie predecessor, with little deviation from the original screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with the addition of lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown.
Set in the golden age of cinema in Hollywood, we meet charming movie star Don Lockwood, and his on-screen partner Lina Lamont. Silent film is all the rage, and Lockwood and Lamont are the brightest gems in Monumental Pictures’ crown. However, times are changing, and the introduction of sound threatens the stability of the whole industry.
The role of Don in this production was originally meant to be played by Adam Garcia, but after opening the show in Melbourne and consequently suffering an injury, Garcia is off the stage for the next month at least. Stepping in with ease is Grant Almirall, who very quickly charmed as charismatic Don. He’s a beautifully skilled, graceful dancer, and his perfectly executed Singin’ In The Rain was wet and wonderful.
In an excellent piece of casting, opposite Almirall is the impressively nimble Jack Chambers, as Don’s good friend and music man Cosmo Brown. Chambers clowns about the stage with brilliant comic timing, and his rendition of Make ‘Em Laugh very nearly steals the show.
Two peas in a pod, Almirall and Chambers light up the stage, constantly playing off each other. Their Moses Supposes is a feat of physical comedy genius.
Not to be forgotten, Gretel Scarlett plays unassuming Kathy Selden, the chorus girl who catches Don’s eye. She gives a polished performance, with a lovely attention to detail. Her stellar voice blends beautifully with Almirall’s and Chambers’, and together they give a faithful rendition of the famous trio in the movie. Good Mornin’ is jolly and jaunty, as it should be.
As Lina, Erika Heynatz is perfectly vacuous and vapid. She dominates her scenes, and absolutely nails Lina’s garish, ghastly voice made so famous by Jean Hagen in the film. Her performance of What’s Wrong With Me? had the audience cheering with delight.
The ensemble in this production is outstanding, handling Andrew Wright’s incredibly complex choreography with ease. All of the dance sequences are vibrant and tight, in particular the tap dancing numbers.
Directed by Jonathon Church, this production is a spectacle to behold. Lovers of the film will be delighted with its accuracy, and newcomers won’t be able to resist its charm. If you really want the full, immersive experience, sit in the first three rows!
Playing at the Lyric Theatre until September 22nd.
Alana Kaye – Theatre Now