The Irish Mail on Sunday
Singin’ In The Rain
All the recent political talk had seeped into my brain so much that, as the thousands of gallons of water poured down onstage for the number, all I could think about was water meters, rainwater barrels, and where all that water was going.
I am reliably informed, however, that the said gallons are recycled and re-used for every performance. And the actual dance routine is a genuine showstopper that sent the audience tripping happily out at the interval, even those who had just had an impromptu shower.
Hence a warning to anyone sitting in the four front rows – have
BordGáisTheatre a raincoat on your knees as James Leece, in the role of Hollywood heart-throb Don Lockwood, kicks and dances his way round the stage in a deluge of flying spray.
The show, set in 1927, has to cope with the legendary status of the Gene Kelly all-time classic 1952 movie lampooning the publicity overkill surrounding the Hollywood dream factory. The arrival of sound was panic time for studios and talentless performers.
The production follows the movie closely, but differs enough to make it a highly enjoyable show in its own right. The song and dance routines, without the film luxury of being pieced together over days, are particularly demanding for the lead performers. But they’re well adapted to the stage, especially the number by Cosmo (Stephane Anelli) and the
sequence. Filmed inserts are used for the scenes showing the over-hyped screen lovers Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont in their first disastrous speaking roles. The self-absorbed airhead Lina is the main comic character, and Vicky Binns had the right screechy tone but some of the comedy was lost when she spoke too fast.
James Leece seemed more at home dancing than singing but he and the sweet-voiced Amy Ellen Richardson make an agreeable couple of lovers.
One could quibble about small aspects of the production, but the songs and that old-style MGM choreography and dance make it such an infectiously feel good show that you’d have to be terminally grumpy not to enjoy it.