Review: Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain
Grand Opera House Belfast.
Until 17th May 2014

Who cares if it rains or pours, no weather forecaster will depress me again because it’s fun when it rains, just go outside, put up your umbrella and dance. So if you see me tap dancing through town with my raincoat on wearing a yellow sou’wester you’ll know I’ve seen Singin’ in the Rain running at the Grand Opera House until 17th May.

If ever there’s a big bold feel good factor on stage in this city it’s at the GOH. Most of us know the story because we’ve seen the film, in fact, being a Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire devote I didn’t like the film and never rated Gene Kelly but seeing the stage production was a delight. The enthusiasm of the cast, like the dry ice, came tumbling across the stage and tipped over the edge into the auditorium.

But to start at the beginning. It’s 1927 and we’re in Hollywood on the set of Monumental Pictures where a movie is being made starring those two Hollywood greats, Lina Lamont (enchanting Vicky Binns) and Don Lockwood (hunky James Leece). A love hate relationship, love on the screen, and for Don hate in actuality. But they are mega popular so they put up with each other for the sake of the studio.

All is going well until news comes through that talkies are on the way. But the studio bosses laugh at the idea and reject any talk of changing their style of picture. That is until The Jazz Singer from the Warner Brothers studios captivates the audiences combining sound and picture.

What to do? Make a talkie of course.

Then it dawns on them how can they make a movie featuring the worst voice in Hollywood, no one could bare to listen to Lina Lamont, she is strictly for looking at. Dilemma! Then lovely and exuberant Cosmo Brown (Stephane Anelli) comes up with an idea and it works. Get that pretty young aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Amy Ellen Richardson) to dub a voice over for Lina. As long as the lip sync was perfect no one would ever know. It works to an extent but causes all sorts of turmoil – Lina isn’t told but then finds out and hits the roof, also discovers out that Don is in love with Kathy – explosion of a woman scorned. All good stuff.

There are lots of highlights in this show, the big screen with the silent ‘lovers’ acting out their costume drama as Kathy sings in the studio and the engineers marry the two together, usually successfully.

The dancing and singing are great, our leading man is a bit out of breath at times but no wonder he has the major dances, and they are energetic; Interesting that James Leece trained at the Royal Ballet School and it showed.

But all is as nothing until the crash of thunder, which raised the lady next to me about three inches out of her seat, a flash of lightening and down came real rain, and it poured. Our hero did his Dancin’ in the Rain routine making sure the first three rows of the audience got just as wet as he did, then the three amigos in their yellow rain coats and hats did the famous number which ends up tipping over the park bench and ending up in a huddle at the edge of the stage. The whole company then dance in the rain, silver umbrellas with multi-coloured lining, it’s great. Such well known songs, You Stepped out of a Dream. All I do is Think of You, Make’em Laugh, You were sent for Me, Good Morning, You are my lucky Star and of course, we all stepped out of the Opera House into Great Victoria Street and guess what, it was raining. Who cares! Probably the organisers of the Giro D’Italia, good luck to all taking part. Another big production number in Belfast tomorrow and Saturday. Belfast is buzzing.

More on Singin’ in the Rain at www.goh.co.uk

ANNE HAILES

Check all Anne Hailes Belfast Times reviews here.

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