Sunday, 15 May 2016

Singin’ in the Rain, May 13, 2016 ****

Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed, Book by Betty Comden & Adolph Green, produced by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Dainty Group International, Michael Cassel Group, David Atkins Enterprises
Her Majesty’s Theatre, until July 3, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sat May 14, 2016 
Stars: ****
Review also in Herald Sun NEWS online on Sat May 14 at 11pm, in print in on Sun May 15 and in Herald Sun Arts online on Mon May 16, 2016. KH
 Adam Garcia photo by Joe Calleri

The front rows cower under plastic ponchos as the rain pours, the puddles splash and the rest of the audience applauds the astounding plumbing on the opening night of Singin’ in the Rain at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

At the end of Act One in this much-loved musical, the stage is awash with 12,000 litres of water when Adam Garcia as Don Lockwood, the role made famous by Gene Kelly, joyfully sings and tap dances (or is that splash dances?) his way through the title song.

Jonathan Church’s spirited and captivating production with its vivacious choreography by Andrew Wright, channels the 1952 movie and highlights the exceptional repertoire of songs that includes: Good Mornin’, Make ’Em Laugh, Moses Supposes and Singin’ in the Rain (music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed).

The musical, based on the original book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, is set in Hollywoodland in 1927 as silent movie producers struggle to adjust to the changing demands of talkies. 

Garcia’s character, Lockwood, is a smug movie star and former vaudevillian whose fame is built on his silent roles opposite the alluring but limited Lina Lamont (Erika Heynatz) whose speaking voice sounds like cats being strangled and renders her unfit for talking roles.

Don falls for showgirl and aspiring serious actress, Kathy Selden (Gretel Scarlett), who has all the talents required for talkies: singing, dancing and speaking without shrieking.

Scarlett is a triple-threat (singer/dancer/actor) with a bright vocal tone and thrilling vibrato perfectly suited to musical theatre and her renditions of You Are My Lucky Star and Would You? as well as You Were Meant For Me, her duet with Garcia, are show highlights.

Jack Chambers is inspired casting as Cosmo Brown, Don’s piano playing, ex-vaudeville partner, and he almost steals the show with his remarkable tap dancing, hilariously nimble slapstick and tuneful voice in Make ‘Em Laugh.

Scarlett, Garcia and Chambers’ voices blend well in their jaunty trio, Good Mornin’, and their playful and complex choreography echoes that of Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor in the movie.

Garcia is at his best in his lively duets with Chambers that include the perky, vaudeville routine, Fit As A Fiddle, and Moses Supposes, the cunningly written, jazz patter song that incorporates tongue twisters and tap dance.
Jack Chambers, Gretel Scarlett, Adam Garcia photo by Joe Calleri

Garcia’s past dance credits on stage and screen are extensive, but he is not as sassy, fluid, loose-hipped and light on his feet as he might be in this role and he is clearly out-sung by his co-leads, Scarlett and Chambers.

Heynatz is audacious as the shrill, vain and mean Lina, demonstrating her impeccable comic timing in the live action scenes and also in the riotously funny black and white movies.

As ruthless movie producer, RF Simpson, Mike Bishop is impressively large-than-life and channels those domineering, old Hollywood studio moguls.

The ensemble is vivid and exuberant in the chorus numbers, All I Do, Good Mornin’, and You Are My Lucky Star and the finale of Singin’ in the Rain is a visual feast of bright brollies, splashing rain and quirky choreography.

Aficionados of the cinematic version should love this effervescent and inventively re-imagined stage production of Singin’ In The Rain.

But remember to wear a raincoat if you are in the front rows.

By Kate Herbert 

Adam Garcia -Don Lockwood

Gretel Scarlett - Kathy Selden
Jack Chambers - Cosmo Brown
Erika Heynatz -Lina Lamont
Robyn Arthur - Dora Bailey
Mike Bishop - RF Simpson
 Rodney Dobson -Roscoe Dexter

Director - Jonathan Church
Choreography - Andrew Wright
Design - Simon Higlett
Musical Supervisor - Robert Scott

Gretel Scarlett & company, photo by Joe Calleri
 Adam Garcia photo by Joe Calleri

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