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Special effects surprise audience in 'Singin' in the Rain'

Singin’ in the Rain is an iconic story filled with romance, friendship and catchy song and dance numbers. After its wide popularity as a movie, with the help of a live orchestra and director Jonathan Church, the Palace Theatre London hosted this classic, light-hearted production.

In the 1920s era of silent movies, two stars rise above their peers: the always dignified Don Lockwood (Adam Cooper) and his shrill leading lady, Lina Lamont (Katherine Kingsley). As the couple?s egos inflate along with their popularity, Don is surprised when he meets Kathy Selden (Scarlett Strallen), a talented showgirl with big dreams of acting on Broadway. Kathy’s down-to-earth personality prevents her from fawning over him like the rest of his crazed female fans. The initial clash of their equally strong wills makes for a bumpy start to their relationship, however, Kathy and Don manage to work out their differences and strike up a friendship. This allows her to acquaint herself with the lovable Cosmo Brown (Daniel Crossley), a lifelong friend of Don, who plays piano for Monumental Studios, the silent movie company where Don and Lina are employed.

Lina immediately objects to Kathy, as rumors concerning the co-stars? potential engagement have been circling, drawing even more attention to the pair. Despite Don?s attempts to deny any romantic involvement between them, Lina views him as exclusively hers and begins to harbor deep resentment toward Kathy, whom she sees as competition.

When the invention of the talking picture becomes a huge hit, the pressure for Monumental to follow suit with their upcoming production leads to possibly life-changing career opportunities for Don, Cosmo, Kathy and Lina, but it may also bring about the destruction of their friendships.

I held high expectations for Singin? in the Rain and they were definitely fulfilled. It is not easy to take on a role originally done by fantastic, admired performers like Gene Kelly, Donald O?Conner and Debbie Reynolds, but I think this trio would be proud of the actors who have filled their shoes in the live rendition of this beloved story.

Cooper?s portrayal of Don was splendid. He came across as arrogant while still remaining likable enough to not become obnoxiously prideful. His proficiency as a singer and dancer was obvious in this show, and I admire him for living up to a character once played by Gene Kelly. The performance of Singin? in the Rain was spectacular, and Cooper definitely deserved the standing ovation he received at curtain call.

Strallen?s role as Kathy also suited her well. Her speaking voice was even similar to Debbie Reynold?s, which showed her dedication to the part. Additionally, Strallen?s ability in terms of singing and dancing was most impressive, as she drew the audience into her performance through her tireless animation. I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the dance numbers she was featured in. Kathy?s relationship with Don was believable and it was fun to see the sometimes comical yet always relatable incidences that initially kept them from getting along.

Crossley possessed all of the impish charm required for his part: he was a source of comedy and was the glue that held Don together and prevented him from becoming completely obsessed with his fame and success. His most notable performance was, of course, “Make ‘Em Laugh,” which featured exhausting choreography, including multiple backflips. As expected, Crossley delivered this number successfully. How he managed to have enough oxygen and stamina to sing on pitch and run all over the stage simultaneously is a mystery to me, but it is one that I applaud him for.

Kingsley was a hit with the audience. She gave a convincing performance as the ungraceful, ditzy, scheming silent film star. Her affected voice rose about an octave higher than natural, and her delivery of Lina?s more famous lines, such as “I?m going to sue you” and “I can?t stand him” were well done, generating appreciative laughter from viewers. One of the most comical moments occurred when Lina is supposed to talk into a microphone hidden in a bush during the filming of Monumental?s first talking picture and the constant turning of her head prevented the microphone from picking up half of her lines.

As the live version of Singin? in the Rain differed slightly from the film, multiple songs were added, including a few solos for Strallen. Her voice was beautiful and the pieces showcased her range. While there were no major changes from the movie, I was disappointed at the absence of the fashion scene, where many extravagant outfits are displayed on live models.

My favorite numbers were “Good Morning” and “Gotta Dance.” The former features all three main characters and is such a catchy tune that I left the Palace Theatre with it stuck in my head for the rest of the evening. The choreography for this piece is essentially comprised of the three friends messing around and celebrating after experiencing an epiphany, their reward for staying up all night.

This song’s reprise involved only the extras, whose talent contributed to the quality and entertainment of the show. I was quite fond of this adaptation of the original song, as the costumes were typical of the 1920s and the dance incorporated a desk with multiple rotary telephones with long chords that the actors used to weave over and under each other around the desk.

“Gotta Dance” is a very long routine, but the bright and colorful set, lights and costumes made it captivating from start to finish. I especially liked the costumes in this number. The girls wore vibrant, fringed flapper dresses and the guys displayed equally showy suits of matching hues.

The most extraordinary aspect of this production was the fact that during Cooper?s performance of “Singin? in the Rain,” it actually rained heavily on stage. The first few rows of the audience were sprayed by the downpour when Cooper danced through the puddles.

Silent and talking movies produced by Monumental were projected onto a large backdrop screen upstage. These were humorous to view and added a sense of realism to the show. I felt like a member of the audience in 1927 who was seeing the talking picture for the first time.

The raw talent and originality of Singin? in the Rain evoked great enjoyment from those who had the privilege of witnessing it, and I would highly recommend attending this, as well as any other production that features the talent of any of these wonderful cast members.

For more drama reviews, read the March 19 article, 1000th ‘Memphis’ performance displays energy.

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    Logan RoodAug 17, 2012 at 12:04 am

    This picture definitely describes our school! It’s so funny. I love all of their faces!