One has ambivalent feelings about seeing Singin' in the Rain on stage. It's certainly a brave venture. The classic Gene Kelly film is popularly considered one of the best screen musicals ever made and it's hard to envisage how a stage adaptation could necessarily deviate from the film without somehow diluting its effervescent magic.
Well, Leicester Haymarket's co-production with Sadlers' Wells is a mixed blessing. To its credit the choice of Adam Cooper as lead Don Lockwood is perfect casting and he's undoubtably the show's trump card, taking on the role of company choreographer too. Originally a dancer with the Royal Ballet, familiar from both Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and the film Billy Elliot, he has a good voice and plenty of charisma as well as natural balletic grace, all of which are sufficient to give him the option of musical theatre to add to his versatile range.
Ronnie Ancona is another good choice as the squeaky-voiced Lena Lamont, a major star of the silent screen who's utterly deluded by her own publicity. Ancona's talent for vocal nuance is given free rein here and she has great fun with a character whose voice is her passport to ignominy, teetering on the precipice as the silent era gives way to the Talkies. Josefina Gabrielle is pleasant enough as newcomer Kathy and Simon Coulthard certainly invests his role with considerable energy as Cosmo, Don's comic sidekick.
The best moments of the show are the hammy excerpts from the silent screen plus the title track which Cooper almost reclaims from Kelly with his inventive choreography. The infectiously upbeat Good Morning is also a winner. Director Paul Kerryson elicits some good performances from his cast but the initial problem still remains: a musical that revolves around the film industry works best on screen and transposed to the stage looks only fair at best.
What other critics had to say.....
SARAH FRATER for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Stage version stays in tune with film classic." LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "More a drizzle than a real downpour of entertainment, Paul Kerryson's stage version of the MGM classic is big, handsome and rather dull." ZOE ANDERSON for THE INDEPENDENT says, "It's a stiff and plodding...." DEBRA CRAINE for THE TIMES says, "Kerryson’s laboured direction misses both humour and romance, subduing the show’s virtues."