Singin’ in the Rain is one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time, and a glossy stage production is now making a splash in Brisbane after seasons around the country. Welcome to 1920’s Hollywood and the rise of the talking picture.
Don Lockwood (Rohan Browne on opening night- he alternates with Grant Almirall) is all Hollywood charm and big white smiles. He and his best friend Cosmo Brown (Jack Chambers) have made their way from inauspicious beginnings being booed off stage in vaudeville music halls to the hallowed studios of Monumental Pictures. On screen and in the gossip magazines, Don and his glamourous co-star, Lina Lamont (Erika Heynatz), are as cozy as can be, but behind studio doors, tensions run high. Especially when Don falls for an aspiring actress, Kathy Selden (Gretel Scarlett).
Browne’s Don is charming and has wonderful chemistry with Scarlett’s Kathy. There’s a beautiful moment where Don unexpectedly comes across Kathy singing ‘You are my Lucky Star’ and the expression on his face is like a groom first seeing his bride on their wedding day. It’s little wonder he has that reaction, though, as Scarlett and her bell-like voice are enchanting. Rounding out the trio, Chambers’ Cosmo has excellent comic timing and an elastic face – very important attributes in a funny sidekick.
Jonathan Church’s detailed original direction (realised by resident director Scott J. Hendry) makes this production a joy. The show flows beautifully and I loved watching the smaller moments – for instance, seeing Lina Lamont mindlessly eating popcorn while entranced by herself on screen was gold.
The set is neat, elegant and very versatile. The backdrop is an ornate proscenium arch that is used as the outside of Grauman’s Chinese theatre, as well as backstage at the studio. Clever, intricate use of props and lighting instantly make the transitions between scenes filmic. The costumes are also fantastic, bringing the glamour of 1920’s Hollywood alive with furs, vests, sequins, dropped waists, fringe, bell hats, top hats and plenty of colour.
One of the best moments of the show is Brown performing the title number. Brown executes perfect pirouettes in actual rain and the exhilarating, fierce joy of new love shines through in his every splash.
This show creates a world where you can always find handy wind-machines and crowds in the street who can perfectly execute choreographed dances when you need to create the perfect moment. It’s full of romance and glitz and unapologetic singing and dancing. It’s nostalgic and hopeful and comforting and energising all at once. So come on with the rain, you’ll have a smile on your face.
Singin’ in the Rain will play at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre till October 30.