Theatre review: Singin' In The Rain
Pack a poncho
When was the last time you discovered something for the first time?
In Singin' In The Rain, you'll find yourself rediscovering things that you had long forgotten, or had taken for granted. A musical adaptation of the 1952 movie starring Gene Kelly, it's set in '20s Hollywood (1927, to be exact) in the last days of the silent screen era. Leading man Don Lockwood (Duane Alexander), his sidekick Cosmo Brown (Steven Van Wyk), leading lady Lina Lamont (Taryn Lee Hudson) and aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Bethany Dickson) are scrambling to come to terms with the emergence of the talkies, while battling their own insecurities in their respective careers.
Everything you love about the jazz age is present here: chic flapper dresses, Barbershop Quartet-like suits, showgirls bursting out of cakes, and Peabody and Charleston dance numbers. However, it's never easy for a musical adaptation to match the original in terms of pace and direction — and in some instances, it shows in this West End remake. Alexander's Lockwood took a while to find his feet in the first few scenes — saved only by quips exchanged with Van Wyk's Brown — before rising to the occasion in the famous torrential rain scene.
And rained it did. Alexander's Lockwood took to full, tap-dancing form darting about the stage, prancing on lampposts and giving the first four rows in the audience the shower they had all been waiting for. But the peak of this leading man slowly wanes — his chemistry with on-stage squeeze Kathy Selden was an underrated affair.
In fact, it's the ones on the side who steal the show. Van Wyk's Brown was by far the best thing in the production, acing the hilarious number Make 'Em Laugh in all his fast-talking, interchangeable accents, providing warmth where the leads lacked in. Hudson's portrayal of the entitled, seemingly untalented actress Lina Lamont provided much of the production's slapstick fits with her Brooklyn-tinged shrieks and squawks, quirks which eventually took an endearing turn.
Singin' In The Rain will leave audiences with a newfound appreciation of just how hard it was for yesterday's craftsmen to bring cinema to where it is now. One particularly memorable throwback was the first glimpse of picture and sound in perfect unison — something unheard of back in the day. The production also hints at debates timely to the contemporary entertainment scene, such as whether theatre's a far more noble setting than the screen — an ironic line when spoken by an actor on stage.
For all intents and purposes, this West End visitor is an entertaining one that sees floods of water and rousing laughter. In today's age of digital reliance, sometimes all you need is a reminder of simpler luxuries like singing in the rain — without the need to Instagram it, of course.
Singin' In The Rain runs till 2 August at the Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. Tickets here.
- Image: Hagen Hopkins
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