The West End stage production of Singin’ in the Rain opened last Friday at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and with its opening night performance receiving a standing ovation, I’m pleased to say it’s an instant splash-hit!
The production made its premiere earlier this year in Melbourne, where it received praise from critics and audiences alike for perfectly capturing the charm, romance and comedy that made the 1952 film a beloved classic. Judging from Friday night’s opening performance, the same success is expected to follow through its limited season in Queensland.
As soon as the lights go down, the stage is full of energy and the audience is transported into the glitz and glamour of 1920’s Tinseltown. A time when the silver screen was finding its voice, where silent films are things of the past, and production companies and their cast are face with a new Hollywood where talkies (films with sound) are all the new rage. The transition was never going to be easy as the characters are faced with the reality to either get with the times or be left behind.
Rohan Brown takes centre stage as Don Lockwood and doesn’t miss a beat. Lockwood is a smug movie star who’s fame has been built on his silent roles opposite Hollywood starlet Lina Lamont (Erika Heynatz). When the pair are forced to star in their first talkie together, it’s swiftly discovered that Lamont’s voice that is reminiscent of a squealing cat leaves the actress unfit for talking roles. Enter showgirl and aspiring “serious actor Kathy Selden (Gretel Scarlett) who has everything Lamont doesn’t have for the new talkies, add a little romance, a pinch of jealously, and hilarity and drama follows.
In much the same way that Donald O’Connor’s portrayal of Cosmo was often the scene stealer in the 1952 film, Chambers does the same with his onstage portrayal of Lockwood’s sidekick. His perfectly choreographed rendition ‘Make Em Laugh’ will leave you begging from more from both the character and actor. Gretel Scarlett is absolutely faultless in the role of of Selden, and never ceases to deliver awe-inspiring vocals for each of her solo performances.
Throughout the performance, the audience is treated with impressively choreographed musical numbers, stunning costumes and a set design that will leave your mouth dropping open with awe. When that most iconic scene is brought to life on stage, the audience is in for one special treat. As Rohan Brown sings the musical’s title track, 12,000 litres of recycled water pours down so the audience can enjoy one of the world’s most famous movie dance scenes recreated live on stage, and it does not disappoint. It’s Brown’s moment and he absolutely owns it.
With its perfectly choreographed musical numbers, stunning costumes, lavish sets, and the spectacle of seeing rain falling live on stage, Singin’ in the Rain will definitely leave you with something to sing about long after the curtain comes down.
Photo credit: Darren Thomas.