Singin’ in the Rain – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review
by Gearóid O’Byrne
When you mention “Singing in the Rain” most people start humming the well-known tune, so iconic is the image of Gene Kelly with the umbrella dancing in the street.
The original Singin’ in the Rain was a Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) 1952 American musical romantic comedy film directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds and featuring Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell and Cyd Charisse. Set in Hollywood in the late 1920s, it portrayed performers caught up in the transition from silent films to “talkies”.
It is often regarded as the greatest musical film ever made. It topped the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list and is ranked as the fifth-greatest American motion picture of all time in its updated list in 2007. Singin’ in the Rain featured well-known songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, including Make ‘em Laugh, Good Morning, Moses Supposes and Singin’ in the Rain. There was actually only one original song written for the film, all the others had featured in previous MGM films, with the song Singin’ in the Rain itself going back to 1929.
This stage production of Singin’ in the Rain by Michael Harrison Entertainment and Jonathan Church Productions is based on the classic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film. Original screenplay and adaptations are by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with Olivier Award-nominated choreography by Andrew Wright. The production is designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Tim Mitchell. Stuart Burt is Casting Director.
The principal set is the supposed studios of Monumental Pictures with the familiar Hollywood sign on the hillside beyond (in its original format of “Hollywoodland”). Busy marking their latest silent movie The Dueling Cavalier, they are sideswiped when rival studio Warner Bros. has a hit with its first talking picture, the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, following which Monumental Pictures’ mogul RF Simpson decides they have to change their film to a “talkie”, The Laughing Cavalier.
The trio at the heart of the show are firstly leading man Don Lockwood played by Sam Lips. Sam is a good all-rounder, rising to the challenge of the singing, acting and dancing demanded by this role. His love interest is Kathy Seldon played by Charlotte Gooch whose role makes similar demands. Finally, Don’s sidekick is Cosmo Brown played by Ross McLaren, this is a good comedic role to which he rises to the challenge. Kathy’s nemesis is leading lady Lina Lamont well played by Jenny Gayner, another delightful comedic role. Her shrill Brooklyn accent would etch glass! Sandra Dickinson is a delightful Dora Bailey/Dialect Coach, both Michael Matus as Roscoe Dexter and Dale Rapley as RF Simpson fill the roles well.
A ten-piece orchestra provides excellent musical accompaniment to the many songs and dances. The costumes are well done and the lighting is generally excellent. While some of the love scenes might seem a little slow and dated to modern audiences, the pace of the show generally carries the audience through.
There are some technical aspects to this show which warrant praise, in particular, the rainfall scene for the title song, where the heavens actually open on stage to the delight of the audience, except perhaps the front few rows who get splashed on by the leading man in the course of the song! Nevertheless, it is essential to people’s memory of the original film and so well done that the audience rose to their feet in a standing ovation after its encore at the end of the show.
The show runs at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin until the 4th of June 2022.