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I saw this show at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, on 23rd February 2013.

Singin’ In The Rain is one of my very favourite films, and Gene Kelly is also a favourite actor of mine, so the show had a lot to live up to.  And it did!  The show was a delight from start to finish.

The storyline – for anyone who doesn’t know it – concerns the switch from silent movies to ‘talkies’ and actually deals with a problem that was experienced by many silent film stars; when the talkies came in, the audience realised that their voice did not match the on-screen glamour, and a few careers ended because of it.  Also part of the story is the romance between famous film-star Don Lockwood and up-and-coming actress Kathy Selden, which is thwarted by the jealousy of Don’s on-screen partner, Lina Lamont.  And mainly of course, there is that mesmerising, breathtaking dancing.

In this production, Don Lockwood was played by Adam Cooper, a man physically very different to Gene Kelly, but who played the part well.  Cooper is a beautiful and elegant dancer, and his dancing sequences were a joy to watch.  My personal favourite was Good Morning, where he was accompanied by Louise Bowden as Kathy, and Stephane Anelli as Cosmo (Don’s childhood and lifelong friend).  The squeaky voiced and vindictive Lina was played with relish by Jennifer Ellison, who was very funny, if occasionally just a little too shrieky, even for Lina!  Actually for me, Stephane Anelli was the star of the production, playing Cosmo with just the right mixture of mischief and melancholy.

The staging was elaborate and wonderfully creative.  There were just a few changes to the film storyline, at least some of which were probably necessitated by the restrictions of performing on stage (for example in the film, Don meets Kathy when he leaps into her open-topped car; here, he meets her while she waits at a bus stop), but overall the storyline is faithful to the iconic film.

An added piece of genius where the film segments, where we see the actors in the roles that they are playing within the play, with all of their period costumes and props, and – hilariously – the problems they encounter when trying to film sound as well as vision.

As ever, the dancing was a joy to watch, and obviously the highlight of the show.  The title number was exuberant and energetic, even if the first few rows of the audience did get soaked!

Well worth watching – I imagine this show will be playing for along time, and I would recommend it to any fans of the film, or indeed any fans of happy musicals!

(For more information about this production, please click here.)

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Click here for my review of the 1952 film.

Click here for my review of the book ‘Singin’ In The Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece’ by Earl J. Hess and Prathiba A. Dabholkar.

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Frequently topping ‘best musical’ lists (the American Film Industry voted it the best musical ever made) and appearing high on any list of film favourites, this really is a delightful film that deserves all the accolades it has received.

Gene Kelly is Don Lockwood, a star of silent movies (the film is set in the 1920s), who has to make the transition from silent to talking movies.  For Don this is not a problem, but for his co-star Lina Lamont, it most certainly is – Lina has an incredibly irritating voice, and cannot act or sing.  Additionally, Don and Lina are in a fake relationship, the only purpose of which is to garner publicity.  When Don meets aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) he starts to fall for her.  She is brought in to dub Lina’s voice in the talking movies, but Lina is not happy.  Will true love win out….?

Man films are described as ‘feel good’ movies – this is one film that is especially deserving of this description.  The high points?  There’s just so many; I loved the ‘Moses Supposes’ dance routine, performed by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (who plays Don’s best friend Cosmo).  It’s incredibly vibrant, fluid and so graceful to watch – and makes you smile too.  O’Connor also performs the fantastic solo number ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ where he does the incredible trick of running up the walls and completing the move with a somersault.  Supposedly O’Connor was so drained by this sequence that when he finished filming it, he went to bed for three days straight – only to find upon his return to work that the footage had been lost and he would have to film it all again.  The result however, is breath-taking.  I also loved Gene Kelly’s dance to the title song.  His sheer exuberance and happiness shines through and is totally infectious – and there’s no doubt about it, Kelly is simply mesmerising when he dances.  I found it hard to take my eyes off him.  A special mention also for the sultry nightclub dance number with Kelly and a stunning Cyd Charisse (with possibly the most fantastic pair of legs ever seen on celluloid).

Gene Kelly is simply amazing throughout this film, and Donald O’Connor, who like his character, plays it for laughs, is just perfect as his best friend; Jean Hagen also puts in a great comic turn as Lina Lamont, and a very young Debbie Reynolds is adorable.

Any low points?  In a word – no.  This is a film to watch time and again, and one that surely can’t fail to make you feel good.  A definite 10 out of 10!

Year of release: 1952

Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Writers: Adolph Green, Betty Comden

Main cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen

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Click here for my review of the 2012 (started) West End Theatre production.

Click here for my review of the book ‘Singin’ In The Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece’ by Earl J. Hess and Pratibha A. Dabholkar.

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