This was an AMAZING production. It wasn’t without a few flaws, but it was breathtakingly wonderful. I was leaning over the balcony with a smile on my face throughout the entire production. It was magical. Joyous. I’m totally going to see it again.
How I ended up there was a perfect storm of factors, to extend the rain metaphor. Watching The Artist last week made me think of Singin’ in the Rain, which I personally think The Artist borrowed quite a bit from (The Artist was feel-good cute, but Oscar-worthy? Hm). The musical production of Singin’ in the Rain just opened at the Palace Theatre on Feb 2nd, and has had advertisements everywhere. And I happened to read a glowing review in The Evening Standard on my subway ride home a day before J arrived. All forces combined, in addition to the fact that this is J’s and my all-time favorite musical… We had to go.
And it was so wonderful. The movie translates well to the stage, and overall this production is very faithful to the original. One critique I had is that the actors’ British accents would slip through every so often, and there was a sense that they were trying so hard to get the accent right that the dialogue was a bit stilted on Don Lockwood’s part, and quite shrill on Kathy Selden’s part. (Scarlett Strallen, I thought, wasn’t the best for the role of Kathy in terms of her singing and speaking voice, but her dancing was exuberant and electric.) Adam Cooper, who played Don Lockwood, seemed a bit studied, as though he was trying a bit too hard to channel Gene Kelly. He did a really good job, but at the end of the day, no one can be Gene but Gene.
But you know what? I’m willing to overlook all that. Because this was downright magical. The dancing was amazing, and the signature number nailed it. The stage is designed such that when the rain starts to come down, the main platform becomes one huge puddle for Don to splash about. And splash about he does, sending big waves into the audience. Literally. He kicks huge sprays of water that rain down on the first four rows of the audience, who start hiding behind their jackets and umbrellas. The whole audience would ooh and aah and giggle with amusement every time that he blissfully splashed his way through the fourth wall, making us all participants in his joy.
To add a qualifier to my critique, I was amazed at the fact that, unlike the movie, the stage production all happens in one non-stop three-hour take, night after night. The stamina required is daunting. So if Don Lockwood seemed a little tired, well, to be honest it’s no excuse, but at least it kind of explains it. On the other hand, Daniel Crossley, who plays Cosmo Brown, totally stole the show. Of the main cast, his accent needed the most help, but his performance overall was the most brilliant. To quote J, if he had performed Cosmo Brown (J’s fave character from the film) as portrayed in the movie, his performance would have been enjoyable as it was. But he didn’t try to improve on the character or channel Donald O’Connor’s original; instead, he truly made the character his own in a way that I thought the rest of the cast didn’t. His rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh” was incredibly athletic, original and entertaining, adding fresh takes that brought the stage to life.
In short, I loved it. If you’re in London, see it. Maybe more than once.