Although it’s a spectacular feat of modern theatre, Singin’ In The Rain never sacrifices the cosy charm of the original MGM musical movie, says David Mullane.
You have to wonder if the powers that be at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre are tempting fate by booking the new touring edition of Singin’ in the Rain at the start of the Irish summer. Is it worth risking our sunshine for this five-star rain dance? Yes, it certainly is.
Singin’ in the Rain, which closely follows the plot of the much-loved MGM movie musical, is at the same time both a charming old-fashioned show and a state-of-the-art spectacle.
In its classic moments, the show delights with its tap dance numbers, comic prat falls, gags and witty dialogue – Cosmo’s much-loved number ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ is a prime example of this old-school style.
Then, once it has enchanted you, the show blows you away with its pièce de résistance, the famous ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ number, complete with full-on torrential downpour. I’ve seen rainfall onstage before, perhaps most recently in the Abbey’s production of Twelfth Night, but that was an over-turned bucket compared with the gallons that fall on the BGET stage.
There’s something magical about witnessing this iconic moment come alive on stage. The lights dim, thunder rumbles overheard, the cast begins to scurry about, grabbing umbrellas, the familiar melody starts up, and the audience takes a collective breath of anticipation before the heavens open. According to the show’s website, 6000 litres of water, heated to 30 degrees, are used for the effect, which are drained, treated and recycled for next time. The rainfall is worth the ticket price alone.
Another majory attraction in this production is Vicky Binns as Lina Lamont, the coarse-voiced, villainous actress. Binns, known to audiences as the tragic Molly from Coronation Street, is hilarious in the role. As the show progresses, her mere appearance on stage elicits hoots from the audience. While I was chatting with her at the after-show party, she confessed that her challenging vocals – screaming and wailing as she does through each performance – cause her to wake each morning frightened that she’s lost her voice. No wonder she was one of the first cast members to sneak out and head for home.
The two romantic leads are not so successful in winning over the audience. James Leece as Lockwood and Amy Ellen Richardson as Kathy Selden lack a necessary chemistry and their moments together drain the energy from the show. Lucky for third-wheel character, Cosmo who always arrives mid-love scene to liven up the proceedings, particularly on a rousing version of ‘Good Morning’, which earned sustained applause from the audience.
It never rains but it pours and the show closes with another shower. This time Lockwood is joined by the whole company in a Technicolor routine of song, dance and splish-splash. It really is an irresistible display of music and motion. One word of warning though: ticket-holders in the first few rows should bring raincoats because you will get wet.
Singin’ In The Rain runs at The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until May 31, booking here. Watch the trailer below.
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