singin in the rain
Thursday, 03 May 2012

Theatre: 4 May

Written by Russell Grant

A Brilliant Forecast

Getting caught in a downpour never felt so good

RUSSELL-GRANTSo, I'm back! This time in my new guise as musicals correspondent. I will not deny that I have missed our 'Strictly...' chats, so when the editor, Matt, asked me to take up the Orpheum baton I jumped at the chance. My love of musicals goes back over 50 years and my very first appearance was with the North Hillingdon Musical Society, in Middlesex, in a production of Kismet, adapted from the wonderful music of Alexander Borodin. It is still my most favourite musical. Stranger In Paradise, And This Is My Beloved and Night of My Nights are all beautiful, enchanting melodies.

A string of musicals from The King & I to King's Rhapsody then steeped me in the glories of American and British scores, before I experienced Offenbach, Lehar and Strauss and, of course, Gilbert and Sullivan.

But I digress. My first assignment was to see Singin' In The Rain – currently packing 'em in at the Palace Theatre. I must confess – or, in modern parlance, 'fess up' – the MGM film did very little for me. I am an Astaire rather than a Gene Kelly fan. So would this stage version turn up the temperature, or be a damp squib?

Accompanied by a dear friend, Siobhan Greene, one of the powers behind the Simon Cowell throne, we headed to the rich chlorine fields of the West End. Chlorine? Well, yes, because they literally do sing (and dance) in the rain – and the stage downpour does smell at times like the old Uxbridge swimming baths of my youth.

As for the musical itself – shall I give you the bad news first? The orchestra is mounted high above the stage in a kind of cagedwrestlers box – wrong! For a classical musical like this, I feel you need to see the orchestra and be embraced by their big sound.

On the upside, fleet-of-foot Adam Cooper stars as Don Lockwood and I have been a fan of his since he toured in the glorious Irving Berlin's White Christmas with my friend Aled Jones. Leading lady Kathy Selden, aka stylish Scarlett Strallen, also sings with clarity and precise resonance. Katherine Kingsley as Lina Lamont reminds one of the late, great Judy Holliday, she captivates and snarls with malevolent guile. But it's the fabulous Daniel Crossley, who plays Cooper's sidekick, Cosmo Brown, who takes your breath away with his comic timing and breathtaking dancing skills.

Palace Theatre, London W1: 0844-412 4656,

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