The stage production of one of my favourite films ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ is at The Marlowe Theatre this week, bringing MGM’s classic 1952 musical to Canterbury. Transporting audiences back in time to the golden age of Hollywood, Singin’ in the Rain is out on tour following a successful West End run and stars Sam Lips, Charlotte Gooch, Ross McLaren and Faye Tozer in the principal roles.
I actually first saw the show at London’s Palace Theatre about ten years ago with my Mum, after managing to secure front row seats at the box office on the day of the performance. It was a very special evening in London and possibly my favourite theatrical experience of my childhood, with the pair of us marvelling at the elegance of the production on the way home, specifically the mesmerising dance routines and the beautiful costumes. Fast forward a decade and Canterbury is the first stop of the 2022 Singin’ in the Rain tour. I am sure it comes as no surprise that I was absolutely ecstatic to receive an invitation to The Marlowe Theatre’s press night for the musical. I immediately said yes and could not wait to hear the memorable songs performed live again.
My Aunt has recently moved to Kent and enjoys theatre too, so I invited her along to the Marlowe as my guest. Starting at Wildwood on the high street, we had a lovely time catching up over good food before heading over for the performance. We arrived just after 7pm, ready for a couple of hours of pure Hollywood magic. Our seats were at the centre of row J in the stalls and the view of the stage was spectacular. From the moment that the 1920s-themed ‘turn off your mobile phones’ announcement erupted through the speakers, I knew it was going to be a wonderful evening at the theatre.
Set in 1920s California, Singin’ in the Rain centres on the stars of the fictional Monument Pictures: Don Lockwood (Sam Lips) and Lina Lamont (Faye Tozer). The early scenes focus on the premiere of the duo’s most recent movie ‘The Royal Rascal’ and the studio marketing department have carefully positioned Lockwood and Lamont as a couple in front of the cameras, to send the papers into a frenzy of speculation and hopefully increase ticket sales. In reality Don cannot stand Lina, with her arrogant behaviour and persistence that they are romantically involved. After the premiere he needs a few moments away from his hectic movie star lifestyle and a late night stroll leads Don straight into the arms of aspiring stage actress Kathy Selden (Charlotte Gooch), who begrudgingly helps him escape a group of enthusiastic fans. Little does Don know, this surprise encounter might just change his life for the better, both personally and professionally.
Lockwood and Lamont have brought the studio lots of success through their silent movie performances, but Hollywood is changing thanks to the emergence of ‘talking picture’ technology. Monument Pictures wants to follow in the footsteps of their rival studios, but there is one slight problem however; Lina has a screechy voice. With the help of Kathy and musician best friend Cosmo Brown (Ross McLaren), Don sets to work on a plan to save their ‘talkie’ The Duelling Cavalier. At 2 hours 40 minutes in length (including an interval), Singin’ in the Rain is an uplifting celebration of all things Hollywood!
Featuring iconic songs such as ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’, ‘Good Morning’ and the title track, the musical has an unforgettable soundtrack. Ross McLaren was absolutely brilliant performing Cosmo’s song ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’. He sang the words effortlessly and captured the audience’s attention with his animated facial expressions and sequence of comedic stunts. Ross even completed a backflip towards the end of the number which was seriously impressive!
Charlotte Gooch’s vocals were beautiful throughout the entire show, with ‘Would You’ and ‘Lucky Star’ highlighting the diversity of her vocal range. You need such a strong voice to take on the singing parts of Kathy Selden and I thought Charlotte did a marvellous job!
It goes without saying that I simply could not review Singin’ in the Rain and not mention the high quality of the dancing. From the energetic tap steps in ‘Moses Supposes’ to Lockwood’s water-filled umbrella routine at the end of act one, there wasn’t a single dance routine in the show that I did not enjoy. My Aunt mentioned to me that she thought the dancers had exquisite timing and I couldn’t agree more; the synchronicity and precision of the routines were spellbinding.
After reading the theatre’s write-up about Singin’ in the Rain today, I learnt that 14,000 litres of water are used on stage for each performance, with Sam Lips kicking the majority of the water across the stage as Lockwood. Sam’s performance of the iconic title track was one of my favourite moments in the production. The audience could just tell that he was having the time of his life dancing through the water, beaming as he glided across the very damp floor! He definitely brought the Gene Kelly charm to the Marlowe stage.
Singin’ in the Rain is a fun and comical production, largely down to the characters of Lina Lamont and Cosmo Brown. There is a lot of sarcasm within the dialogue, often directed towards Lina and her selfish personality. Faye Tozer had to do a lot of screeching within the role and her terribly brilliant performance of the song ‘What’s Wrong With Me’ was absolutely hilarious.
What a joyous production of the classic musical! Thanks to the ultra-talented cast, I laughed, I smiled and tapped my feet (quietly), enjoying every moment of this world-class production. The show was just as good as I remembered, with its gorgeous dance routines and witty dialogue. If anything, I appreciated the production on a far deeper level this time, especially when I think of the crew and what a task it must be to take such a grand piece of theatre on the road.
I am extremely thankful to the Marlowe team for the opportunity to review such a popular musical as Singin’ in the Rain*. It is playing at The Marlowe Theatre until Saturday, with some tickets still available on the theatre’s website.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx
*Our tickets and programme for Singin’ in the Rain were gifted in exchange for a review of the performance.