Singing in the Rain: West End Tour 2014 - Review

Singing in the Rain: West End Tour 2014 - Review


Posted 2014-01-21 by Margaret Watersfollow

Tue 14 Jan 2014 - Sat 01 Feb 2014

FAB-U-LOUS, I've just been to see 'Singing in the Rain' at the Sunderland Empire and loved every minute of it.

The show is on tour from the West End and puts on a spectacular performance, including the famous 'Singing in the Rain' solo immortalised by Gene Kelly in the 1952 film of the same name.

The amazing dance scene uses gallons of water to produce the effect of a thunderstorm while the lead singer/dancer James Leece performs the famous number to the delight of the crowd.

I've always loved musicals and have grown up with this one, so when I heard it was coming to Sunderland, I couldn't wait to see it.

Sunderland Empire lies in the heart of the city and has been delivering high quality shows to the North East for as long as anyone can remember, if not longer. The theatre opened in 1907 and has a reputation of being loved by both performers and audiences alike. It was refurbished in 2004 and has capacity of 860 seats spread over three levels, frequently playing to packed houses - today seemed no exception.

My friend and I were in the Dress Circle and had a wonderful view of the stage so sat back in comfort to watch the show.
'Singing in the Rain' tells the story of when Hollywood found its voice and film productions evolved from silent movies to 'talkies'. It is set in 1927, when the stars of the silver screen mimed their parts and background music was played on piano while on screen cues explained what was going on.

The plot surrounds the problems that arose when the Warner Brothers studio released the very first real life 'talkie', 'The Jazz Singer' starring Al Jolson. It broke all box office records of the day and the rest of the film industry was playing catch-up, only problem was, not everyone had the right tone of voice for the new fangled films which allowed audiences to hear their idols voices for the first time.

The intricacies of the movie industry finding its feet in the world of sound productions forms the background to the story and the musical production mirrors the MGM film as it's main characters, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont – Monumental Pictures' biggest silent movie stars of the day, now have to compete with the new talking technology. Monumental Pictures, their film studio is especially confounded as Lina Lamont has a shrill New York accent that makes everyone titter the moment she opens her mouth.

What's more, their forthcoming movie 'The Duelling Cavalier' is set to crash if they can't turn their silent production into a 'talkie' within six weeks.

The plot thickens when the fictional star, Don Lockwood, meets and falls in love with a girl with a beautiful voice (Kathy Selden) and the production company decides to dub Lina's voice with Kathy's.

The rest of the story is told in a series of stunning song and dance sequences that are packed with energy and include the original songs 'Make 'em Laugh', 'Good Morning' and of course, 'Singing in the Rain'.

The original cast members Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood), Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden) and Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown) along with Cyd Cerise and Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont) were superbly played by the cast members of the touring show with James Leece, Amy Ellen Richardson and Stephane Annelli playing the parts of Don, Kathy and Cosmo respectively while established stage and screen actor Maxwell Caulfield plays studio boss R.F.Simpson. Ian Waller is the Resident Director of the show.

Faye Tozer, who is best known as a member of 90s pop band'Steps' and is an accomplished West End performer, plays Lina Lamont beautifully and had the audience rippling with laughter at her nauseatingly nasal New Yoik accent while her character Lina seems totally oblivious as to what all the fuss is about. This thread of comedy engages the audience in a bit of light hearted mirth as the lofty superstar tries to speak properly but continues to squeak.

The stunning choreography, originally devised by Gene Kelly for the film was adapted for the stage show by award winning choreographer Andrew Wright and was performed to perfection by the whole cast while the staging of the iconic scene showing the leading character (James Leece) performing the title song 'Singing in the Rain' uses not less than 12,000 litres of water, which is warmed to a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius to prevent the actors from catching a chill, as they frequently perform the routine twice a day. Stay clear of the first few rows if you don't want to get wet.

Being such an iconic dance scene in the history of the movies, I hoped I wouldn't be disappointed by the stage show but the quality of the performers was outstanding and, far from being daunted by the legendary Gene Kelly performance, they made it look easy. I couldn't help feeling his legacy was in safe hands.

Thoroughly fantastic, a great display of pure entertainment for all the family and a must see for all lovers of the musical genre.

Like all shows made in 1927, the mobile phone didn't exist, so remember to turn yours off before the show starts. Photography and video devices are also prohibited, besides you can always buy a programme if you want a keepsake of the show.

Tickets cost between £10.00 - £49.50 depending on where you sit and the date of the show. A fee of £2.85 is also payable if you book your tickets on the telephone.

Singing in the Rain is on now at the Sunderland Empire and runs until 1st February 2014. A nationwide tour follows at venues throughout the UK and Ireland, including Bristol, Glasgow, Birmingham Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin (amongst others), ending in Southampton in October 2014.

Faye Tozer plays Lina Lamont until April 2014 then former Coronation Street actress Vicky Binns picks up the role until the end of the tour.

Sunderland Empire
4-5 High St West, SR1 3EX
Tel: 0844 8472499
For Special Assistance Tel: 0191 5661040
Please be aware that you might incur booking fees and charges for using your debit/credit card.

!date 14/01/2014 -- 01/02/2014
73280 - 2023-01-26 02:09:48


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