Singin’ in the Rain – Southend Operatic & Dramatic Society, Palace Theatre, Southend
Made famous by the film and Gene Kelly’s umbrella led dance routine to the title song “Singin’ in the Rain”, the show takes us through the introduction of the talkies in the 1920’s at Monumental Pictures.
The overture introduced us to a lovely sounding orchestra but on occasions, I felt the tempo on the musical numbers was too slow and it slowed the action too much. The show itself starts outside a movie theatre and Ashley-Marie Stone as Dora Bailey started it off well with clear diction and a lovely characterisation.
The show has four main principal characters in Don Lockwood played by Robert Maynard, Kathy Seldon played by Kirsty Bone, Ewan Dunlop as Cosmo Brown and Laura Mann as Lina Lamont. All these parts require triple-threat performers who can sing, act and dance.
Robert Maynard acted well and was a good mover – learning to tap dance is always a massive challenge especially in such a short period of time and he has a lovely singing voice but it was such a shame he sang with such a perfect English accent. If he could have mastered the American accent it would have been a fantastic all-around performance. Kirsty Bone sang equally well and the two made a lovely couple on stage.
Laura Mann as Lina Lamont was a joy to watch. She got all the comedy moments spot on and delivered a great performance. However, the real triple threat performer of the show was Ewan Dunlop, he was perfectly cast as Cosmo – he had bundles of energy and was completely engaging to watch. I hope to see him perform again in another role.
Jonathan Buxton as RF Simpson also gave a strong performance, as did Les Cannon as Roscoe Dexter who was fabulously flamboyant. The best vocals of the evening were from Declan Wright with ‘Beautiful Girl’ and there were some great cameo performances too but diction throughout from everyone did need some attention.
This is quite a bitty show with many different scenes to transpose in and out of and I particularly loved seeing the stage crew in their brown coats and flat caps – a great touch. The costumes looked good but I honestly didn’t like seeing the dancers wearing black oxford tap shoes with pastel coloured dresses or sparkly costumes. These days this doesn’t have to be the case and is incredibly unflattering on the ladies.
This was opening night, so I am sure lots of these little things will be ironed out during the rest of the run and audiences who see this show will certainly enjoy a great night of live theatre. If you haven’t got tickets yet then get some and have a great night of entertainment – whether it’s raining or not!!