Jonathan Church’s production of Singin’ in the Rain received critical acclaim at the Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End. The show is currently on a UK tour and returns to London this week at New Wimbledon theatre. Bringing a nostalgic flare to the iconic venue and of course… a glorious feeling! Whether you have seen the original 1950’s film or not, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

Credit: Johan Persson

Singin’ in the Rain is a show that transports you back to the glamour of Hollywood during the roaring 20’s. In summary this show is based on silent movie star, Don Lockwood. Don has it all, from the endless fame and a romance both on-and-off-screen with star Lina Lamont. Although the real element of their love story is only for the tabloids, Don finds his true love whilst Hollywood silver screens finds its voice. A story of both a world phenomenon and a personal journey of realisation.

As soon as the curtains opened, the modern audience are transported back over 100 years ago to a film set, clearly displaying the old ‘Hollywood land’ sign in the background setting the era in stone. A time in which film was used to project love through the screen, as the world recovered from the war. This time capsule of a musical holds emotions of laughter and joy throughout.

The appearing grey tonal set allows for seamless shifts from one scene to the next, needing minimal set dressing for each transition. Transporting the audience from film sets, sidewalks and movie theatres from various angles. The show keeps very much to the film and includes many classic moments such as ‘Fit as a Fiddle’, the dialect scene and … the cake! These are all staged flawlessly.

The traditional musical is encompassed in the best way possible with all of today’s modern technology. Featuring innovative lighting design by Tim Mitchell, film screens and of course the 14,000 litres of water that is used to create a show-stopping rain sequence for the iconic titular number ‘Singin in the Rain’. This is a high level production that has clearly been finessed throughout the years and the result is masterful.

The long anticipated moment of hearing Lina Lamont’s voice for the first time does not disappoint. Jenny Gayner’s impeccable interpretation of the high-pitched vocalisation, sprinkled with a brash Brooklyn accent, and the mispronunciations of various words is cleverly demonstrated in ‘What’s Wrong With Me’ – an exclusive number for the staged show.

Ross McLaren shines in ‘Make ‘Em Laugh ‘ a routine filled with slapstick humour that has something for everyone and will put a smile on the entire audience’s faces. McLaren demonstrates impeccable comedic timing with fast paced transitions and skillful movements.

Sam Lips brings charm and a classic hollywood feel to the role of Don Lockwood. Lips proves himself as a triple threat, with skills which appear to come as second nature to him. His performance is a pleasure to watch.

Although Charlotte Gooch who played Kathy Selden did well at showing both sides of the character’s personality, from her fiery spirit to her compassionate nature. I feel there was something missing within the character that didn’t allow me to root for her when she gets discovered for who she really is. Having said this, watching the chemistry between Kathy and Don is a joy. It is nice to see a love story that isn’t the usual ‘love at first sight’ scenario, instead, the audience get to see their love develop and transform.

Although a smaller role, Sandra Dickinson stood out for me both as Dora Bailey and the dialect coach. Dickinson is spot on in her deliverance and her aptitude to portray these roles seamlessly, is very impressive.

The entire ensemble are showcased within the dream sequence and during a surprise reprise at the end. The ensemble’s strength is in their synchronised movements, not one of them misses a beat throughout, which leaves the audience toe-tapping along.

There is so much I have to say regarding this show, all of which is high praise to all the elements within it. This is the bar I would set for any other film-based stage musical. This is exactly how adaptations should be done! Singin’ in the Rain, is something everyone needs to see! I guarantee you will leave with the songs stuck in your head and a spring in your step. Running at New Wimbledon Theatre until the 2nd July – or catch it somewhere else on the national tour!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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