Peter Ormerod reviews Singin’ in the Rain, presented by Leamington and Warwick Musical Society at the Spa Centre, Leamington
The most telling moment in this ambitious production came when no-one expected it.
A well-executed routine for Good Morning ended with one of the few evident mishaps of the night, as a sofa refused to do what it had apparently managed in rehearsals – namely, tip over as required. Some slightly ungainly improvisation ensued. And it was joyous to behold: the audience’s reaction was rapturously sympathetic, and, for the first time on a tense first night, the performers allowed themselves some space to breathe, and enjoy themselves.
This is undoubtedly a sound and solid show, well realised by director Stephen Duckham, tightly choreographed by Nikki Shurvinton and capably soundtracked by Alastair Evans and his ensemble. There are some very strong performances, most notably by Hannah Hampson (who, in a just world, would probably be a big star) as charmingly unassuming lead Kathy Selden and Nikki Claire Cross as eardrum-perforating Lina Lamont. And the story, which deals with the threat of new technology (in his case, ‘talkie’ films) to old industries (silent cinema), has many contemporary resonances.
The large cast seemed most at ease in the big production numbers, which are typically pulled off with aplomb. Things were a bit less certain in the long passages of dialogue, with some decent comic lines delivered with a sense of inhibition; there were laughs, but most derived from physical comedy.
If the show lacked anything on its first night, it was self-belief. This is clearly a talented group of performers, some of whom were perhaps cowed by the shows’ scale. They have no need to be: they are good enough to give the big, bold, brash characterisations the musical really needs. When the shackles came off, as they did on a few occasions, the cast showed what they’re capable of, and were tremendous.
There was much talk before the show of the ‘real’ rain that falls on the stage. But as special effects go, you can’t beat a bunch of capable performers singing and dancing and acting their hearts out, and having the time of their lives while doing so.
My advice to them? Go for it. You’re good enough.
* Singin’ in the Rain runs until Saturday. Call 334418 to book.