Singin’ in the Rain is a fitting Christmas musical for a venue that’s surrounded by water. It wouldn’t usually be a compliment to describe a production as ‘wet’ but a light trickle wouldn’t be sufficient here.
The evergreen film starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds receives a very faithful stage treatment, with a modern framing device. A teenager stumbles across a selection of paraphernalia belonging to the once mighty Monumental Pictures and escapes into this lost world via her smartphone, shared with the audience through a series of projections.
Joseph Pitcher’s perfectly proportioned production is ideally matched by fluid choreography by Ashley Nottingham. A bustling ensemble conveys the film industry’s attempt to adjust to the requirements of using voices as well as faces. Diego Pitarch’s set acts as a blank canvas for the dramas on and off screen, complemented by Natalie Titchener’s delectable 1920s costumes and Jamie Platt’s impressionistic lighting.
Stepping into Gene Kelly’s brogues, Philip Bertioli has the relaxed charm, nimble feet and touch of arrogance required for vaudevillian turned leading man Don Lockwood. Rebecca Jayne-Davies is a bubbly and assertive Kathy Selden and Brendan Cull is a pleasure as quick-thinking, quick-stepping, jack-of-all-trades Cosmo Brown.
The treatment of squeaky-voiced diva Lina Lamont (Sammy Kelly) is a sticking point. Although she gets a solo (unlike in the film), her public humiliation does feel excessively mean spirited.
Nevertheless, with such music, glamour and charm, a downpour and a surprise splash or two has rarely been so joyous.