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Singin' In The Rain at The Alexandra Theatre - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Stage Experience Makes A Splash With Famous Musical
With a cast of 101 amateurs and just two weeks of rehearsals, Stage Experience tackled one of the toughest song and dance musicals there is for this year's summer performance.

stage experience, Singin' in the rain, Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre, 2019
A cast of 101 talented people in this year's show

Singin' In The Rain is iconic for both its hit songs and famously difficult dance routines, made to look easy by legendary Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor.

Undeterred by this, enthusiastic young performers auditioned in droves to be part of this year's Stage Experience in Birmingham, which gives some of the brightest young talent from across the Midlands the opportunity to star in a professional show, supported by industry creatives and technical staff from the theatre.

Singin' In The Rain, which is performed at Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 21 to 24 August, started off with a sensory experience as small droplets of rain were cleverly sprinkled randomly over the audience to herald the start of this year's production.

stage experience, Singin' in the rain, Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre, 2019
Big numbers are impressive in Singin' In The Rain

Opening at a film premiere in the roaring twenties for silent movie stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, it gave an early opportunity to get much of the cast on stage as screaming fans or attendees. It was a nice touch and also created an atmospheric buzz in the theatre.

The plot - part love story and part reflection on Hollywood as the age of talking movies emerged in the 1920's - focuses on leading silent movie stars Lockwood and Lamont as they are forced to adapt to the age of the "talkies".

Lockwood and Lamont may look good in romantic dramas on screen but Lamont's screechy voice won't translate well into talking movies. Scheming Lamont also isn't happy that her on-screen partner has fallen in love with a chorus girl who has more talent than her and manipulates the situation to help her career survive - but will it ultimately wreck Lockwood's new romance?

The themes of the storyline mean that there's the chance to use screens in this production to recreate silent movies. Something that adds another dimension as well as a lot of humour to the show.

stage experience, Singin' in the rain, Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre, 2019
Romantic scenes with Isabella Kibble starring as Kathy

The four leads playing Don Lockwood (Ben Tanner), his new love Kathy Selden (Isabella Kibble), his best friend Cosmo Brown (Sam Rogers) and on-screen partner Lina Lamont (Jessica Walton) are all incredibly good with real confidence on stage.

That should be no surprise as Stage Experience has an audition process of seeking out the strongest performers and during its 15-year history, there have been previous amateur performers, who have gone on to successful careers. They include comedian Joe Lycett and Liam Doyle, who went on to leading roles in West End hits such as Wicked, Mamma Mia and Legally Blonde.

There's plenty of promise in this latest production and Isabella Kibble, starring as Kathy, is a striking leading lady with a beautifully toned voice, especially for song Would You?

Jessica Walton makes easy work of playing the baddie and her high-pitched New York accent never falters, even through her comic song What's Wrong With Me?, which is harder than she makes it seem on stage.

What really gels the show together comes from the chemistry between Ben Tanner and Sam Rogers, playing best friends Lockwood and Cosmo. Their dance routines are some of the most famous of the musical with Good Mornin', Make 'Em Laugh, Moses Supposes and for Tanner on his own, Singin' In The Rain.

Their routines, whether tap dance or other, have a timely symmetry that wouldn't be out of place in a professional show. Tanner is a likeable hero and looks comfortable in the role. This is his eighth performance with Stage Experience and he's at Bird College Conservatoire For Dance And Musical Theatre, where Rogers also studies, which could partly explain their rapport.

stage experience, Singin' in the rain, Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre, 2019
Sam Rogers as Cosmo and Ben Tanner as Don Lockwood have a great rapport

Added to this, are some glamorous routines with large numbers of the cast that can't help but put a smile on your face. Broadway Melody, in particular, stands out and Beautiful Girl also has an elegant touch to it.

To think that a show with such polished performances had been created in just two weeks is fantastic work by everyone involved, especially as it is so enjoyable.

Singin' In The Rain comes with its difficulties - dance routines splashing in real water, big-scale tap dancing routines and romantic, well-known songs that people will be quick to pick-up on if any notes are out of key.

But this year's talented Stage Experience performers, that included some very young children, took it in their stride and created a memorable evening that lived up to the promise of what Singin' In The Rain should be. It created a glorious feeling that is sure to make you happy again.

stage experience, Singin' in the rain, Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre, 2019
A musical that will give you a happy refrain

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Why? See talented young performers in Birmingham for latest Stage Experience
When: Until August 24
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, B5 4DS
Cost: From 18.90
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