by Zahid Fayyaz
This adaptation of the much-loved 1952 Gene Kelly film has had a very productive life as a stage musical, what with its catchy songs and tap dancing routines. This particular touring production by Jonathan Church previously ran in the West End and Sadler’s Wells so as expected, the dance has received a lot of attention. The lovely New Wimbledon Theatre where it’s on for this leg of the tour is one of the bigger theatres that lie outside of the West End on the edges of London.
The story revolves around Don Lockwood (Sam Lips), a silent movie star, and the industry’s transition into talking films. At the same time he falls in love with another actor, Kathy Selden (Charlotte Gooch), who is struggling to make it in the world. The cast is uniformly wonderful, with special mention due for the comic chops of Jenny Gayner as Lina Lamont, with a wonderfully funny terrible voice.
The real selling points of this tour are the songs and production values. The West End-level quality, with lush and extravagant sets and costumes (by Simon Higlett), has not been compromised for the tour. The dance performances and musical set pieces are excellent, and have the crowd rapt. Everyone there seems to know the words of the famous songs: “Good Morning”, “Make ‘Em Laugh”, and of course, “Singin’ in the Rain”. The latter is a barnstorming end to the first act, with water cascading down the stage. This is the first part of an England and Scotland tour, and well worth catching on the road.
Singin’ in the Rain runs through 2 July at New Wimbledon Theatre, then tours.
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