The 1952 film, Singin' in the Rain, was written by the famous American writing duo of Adolph Green and Betty Comden, with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, and is about Hollywood in the final days of the silent film era. The film is considered one of the best musical films ever. The original stage version of Singin' in the Rain had its London debut back in 1983 at the London Palladium, where it played for two years. It has returned over the years, last time in 2004 at Sadler's Wells.
This new version, with the ever-so-talented American dancer Adam Cooper, stays true to the story. Cooper plays Don Lockwood, a handsome and famous silent film star. He teams with his leading lady, Lina Lamont (a wonderful Katherine Kingsley) to star in several hit movies. The studio PR man spins the story that they are in love in order to boost movie ticket sales, and unfortunately, Lamont, in her mind, believes that they actually are in love.
One night, after the opening night party of another one of their successful films, he meets a woman on a bench and they start to chat. The woman, Kathy Selden (a beautiful Scartlett Strallen), is an actress herself, a serious actress she tells Lockwood, one who will soon be starring in serious stage productions. They go their separate ways. Then a few days later, Lockwood is attending a party when a huge cake is wheeled out. And in the cake pops out Selden, who is actually a chorus girl. And thus, Lockwood and Selden's romance starts to blossom.
There is an upcoming glitch, however. A new film has opened up called The Jazz Singer, which is a talkie. They dismiss it first as a fad; however, The Jazz Singer proves to be a huge hit, so their studio chief, RF Simpson (Michael Brandon), decides that they need to reshoot the movie they have just filmed - The Deuling Cavalier - into a talking musical. There is one big problem, though: leading lady Lina Lamont's voice is high. Not just high, but squeaky and high - certainly a voice not made for a talking film. So Lockwood asks Selden, who has a beautiful voice, to speak (and sing) for Lamont in the film. The Dancing Cavalier is a hit, but it is Selden who made it a hit, and eventually, she get the credit, the stardom, and Lockwood.
Singin' in the Rain has everything you want to see on a West End stage. The musical numbers are fantastic; all of them stand out. One of the several excellent dance scenes has musical director Cosmo Brown (a fantastic and scene-stealing Daniel Crossley) singing and dancing to the song Make 'em Laugh, while at the same time avoiding collisions of all sorts. Also memorable are the scenes where the film of The Deuling Cavalier is being shot. Clever use of filming on stage and then later seeing what was just filmed on a large screen, is genius. The costumes are fantastic, and of course the music is wonderful. And you may already heard that when the theme song is done twice in the show, the first few rows get wet. But it is all in good fun, and singin' in the Rain is a great night out at the theatre, whether you get splashed or not.