REVIEW: Singin' in the Rain at The Bristol Hippodrome

James Leece, Amy Ellen Richardson and Stephane Anelli in Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain is on at Bristol's Hippodrome until August 9

First published in Theatre by

1920s Hollywood. The age of the silent silver screen starlet is about to be shattered by the development of the ‘talking picture’  – surely a fad that will never catch on?   

Straight from the West End comes the critically acclaimed production of Singin’ in the Rain, which tells the tale of the first Hollywood musical.

As power ‘couple’ Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont prepare for the new era of cinema, they find themselves left wanting. The leading lady’s voice just won’t do and there’s competition from newcomer Kathy Selden – on and off the screen.

The 1952 MGM film is a masterpiece, consistently rated among the best films of all time. With iconic dance sequences and musical numbers – including, of course, the title sequence – it was just waiting to be brought to the stage.

Talented trio Jonathan Church (director), Andrew Wright (choreographer) and Simon Higlet (designer) have done a superb job translating the classic movie for the theatre – keeping enough authenticity to please purists while adding a few new surprises.

It is a testing musical for any ensemble – with big screen roles to live up to and one fast-paced dance number after another.

The talented cast more than rise to the challenge, with enthralling routines which had the audience tapping along at last night’s opening performance at Bristol’s Hippodrome.

Gene Kelly left big tap shoes for future Don Lockwoods to fill. James Leece certainly does the lead role justice, bringing fine-tuned dance skills and a wonderful, rich voice for his many songs.

The production adds two new numbers – You Stepped Out of a Dream and What’s Wrong with Me?, which gives former Coronation Street star Vicky Binns’ Lina a moment to shine.

Stephane Anelli is a brilliant Cosmo Brown, bringing fantastic slapstick to his performance of Make ‘em Laugh early in the show. The boys’ rendition of Moses fuses physical humour with yet more talented dancing, while Amy Ellen Richardson’s Kathy Selden is a character you can care about – and one which shows frequent flashes of Debbie Reynolds’ original performance.

Colourful and creative, Singin’ in the Rain notoriously brings 12,000 litres of water to the stage each night for the performances of the title song. These moments of joyful abandon and splashing water are beautifully choreographed and just as good as you hope them to be – but beware booking seats in the front rows!

This toe-tapping musical brings the age of the talkie to life through a touching love story and will have you singin’ the classics all the way home.

Singin' In The Rain is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, August 9.

 

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