Singin’ In The Rain – Empire Theatre, Sunderland
Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East
Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Director: Jonathan Church
After a successful run in the West End, this critically acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre production, which received four Olivier Award nominations and played to packed houses, Singin’ In The Rain tap dances its way into Sunderland as part of the current national tour. A riot of glorious Technicolor based on the wonderful classic MGM musical, the show does not disappoint.
Transporting the audience back to 1927, Singin’ In The Rain tells the story of when Hollywood was moving away from the era of the silent movies and into the brave new world of talking pictures. The only problem, is that one of the studio’s biggest stars has a voice that does not match her beauty.
Unfortunately, stepping into the sizable toe-tapping shoes of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood, has caused injury for James Leece, so instead we are treated to Matthew Malthouse. Malthouse sings and dances with energy and talent; an actor who can easily carry the show until Leece is back to full health. Joining him on stage, Maxwell Caulfield is studio boss RF Simpson and Paul Grunert is Director Roscoe Dexter.
The two leading ladies are polar opposites in their rôles. Amy Ellen Richardson as Lockwood’s love interest Kathy Selden has charm, innocence and a glorious voice. But perhaps the surprise package of the show, is the incredible comedy performance of former Steps singer Faye Tozer, who brings barrels of laughs in the rôle of the uniquely-voiced beauty Lina Lamont.
Stephane Anelli steals the show as Lockwood’s best friend and side-kick Cosmo Brown. With his slapstick performance of Make ‘em Laugh, he is full of comedic vitality. However, the true star of the show is the stage itself which shows off Andrew Wright’s award winning choreography superbly. An outstanding ensemble cast also each play vignette rôles as the story unfolds, dancing and singing with perfection. Their joy and energy captivates the audience right from the start.
The simple set transforms well into a studio lot, a party and cinema, but it’s during the title song where it excels itself. With a little pit that soon fills up with water, the high kicking during Singin’ in the Rain soaks the audience as well as the cast.
Catch this feel good classic while it’s in Sunderland, but be warned, if you sit near the front, it is likely you will go home considerably wetter than when you arrived.