Singin' in the Rain
Screenplay and adaptation by Betty Comden and Adolf Green with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Sadler's Wells and Leicester Haymarket
It's rare to see such movement on an English stage outside the ballet. Perhaps that's the trouble.
If Singin' In The Rain were meant to be like this, it would surely have been titled Dancin' In The Rain!
Sadler's Wells and Leicester Haymarket have in Adam Cooper as choreographer and star the man with everything - except star quality. As silent screen favourite Don Lockwood, his dancing needs no compliments here. He looks good and he is good, even to the extent of a passable singing voice. After all, Gene Kelly was no Crosby.
But for the vaudeville flair this sentimental late 'twenties Hollywood tale requires, look no farther than Simon Coulthard as young Cosmo Brown, the Donald O'Connor figure who's always around. It's Cooper's misfortune in this production that there are still too many reruns of Kelly and the great Astair. Those who play Lady Bracknell and Henry V know the feeling.
But never mind them, we recall also Tommy Steel - now there's a hoofer who could sing and dance in the rain! And what a partner he would have made with the porcelain beauty and easy movement of Josefina Gabrielle's Kathy. Full marks, too, for Ronni Ancona's inarticulate Lina Lamont, the screen goddess who's charisma fell off the moment she opened her mouth. Perhaps we're seeing the next Oklahoma! Ado Annie?
While the Broadway Melody ballet seems to have come from nowhere and says little, it is, at least, close to artistic achievement as a production number. Not so, alas, the scene of scenes after which this show is named and which closes the long first half. No street setting, no policeman, only Cooper with some spectacular dance in spray which looks more like the municipal showers than heavy rainfall.
Robert Innes-Hopkins stylish settings are clearly designed for the ballet stage, except for those charming, if over-used, black and white projections. Yet with some nice characterisations from Peter Forbes and Claude Close, there are the ingredients for a nostalgic evening here.
A lot more dancing from the heart rather than the head - and twenty minutes off the running time - and we'll all be singin' in the real rain when it inevitably comes.
Reviewer: Kevin Catchpole