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Theatre Review: Singin’ in the Rain

Jonathan Church’s production leaves audiences out in the rain with a three-star performance

Despite spectacular effects, Adam Cooper can’t recapture the magic of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s 1952 film version of Singin’ in the Rain. Credit: Manuel Harlan

It was inevitable that the raging torrent of world class five-star musical revivals would begin to ebb sooner or later, and, sure enough, it has with this drippy revival of Singin’ in the Rain.

Jonathan Church’s production was first staged at the Chichester Festival Theatre ten years ago and there’s no question it’s retained its good looks – the stage is flooded with water for the rendition of the title song – but somehow, for all the money that’s obviously been spent on it, it feels strangely stagnant.

Adam Cooper, in the role Gene Kelly made his own in the classic film, has, at 50, inevitably lost some of his oomph since the show first opened. The plot, too, doesn’t really amount to much. We are supposed to find it funny the way that Lina Lamont, as a silent movie queen with a squeaky voice, has to be dubbed, but the joke wears thin when we see the process of syncing done over and over again on a black and white screen.

The movie premiere scene worked well enough at the beginning of the show, but again it gets to be repeated. I didn’t care about any of the characters either, and, as hard as its writers have tried to make it funny, it simply isn’t. Maybe it didn’t help, either, that I saw it the day after the sublime Anything Goes at the Barbican, and, soaking wet after being caught in a real shower during this lousy summer, I simply wasn’t in the mood for a show that made such a song and dance about rain.

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