Harrogate Theatre, 2 – 5 April. Evening performances at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinée at 2.30pm.
Singin’ In The Rain is still renowned as one of the greatest movie musicals of all time, even after 62 years. Indeed, it is no wonder that Ripon Amateur Operatic Society found a large cast eager to take their place in the society’s 74th year musical. Set in the roaring 20s, the musical is based in the film studios of Hollywood as they attempt to make the transition from silent movies to ‘talking pictures’. Don Lockwood (William Eley) and Lina Lamont (Michelle Rundle) are the leading duo at their studio, Monumental Pictures, and cannot make the leap to sound without the help of Don’s new love interest, Kathy Seldon (Milly Downing).
The overture is superbly played by Phil Redding’s 10 piece band and has your feet tapping before the curtain raises and thrusts us into the glamour of a red carpet film première. All the classics from the film are here – Make ‘em Laugh highlights Khalid Shahjahan’s talents in the role of Cosmo Brown. His facial expressions and comic timing are a treat throughout his charismatic performance. Shahjahan is joined by Eley and Downing for Good Morning, a splendid display of superb singing and highly competent tap dancing. Downing shines here, bouncing off the two gentlemen with ease. Moses Supposes displays Eley and Shahjahan’s on stage chemistry as they impress their befuddled diction coach, a small but memorable role played by Albert Day.
The true stars of the show are the original silent movie romantic pairing, Lockwood and Lamont (Eley and Rundle). Eley holds the stage presence of a man twice his age and his warm tones are perfectly suited to the title song. The best dancer in the group, he is a leading man that will be missed when he leaves the group to study musical theatre in London next year. Rundle is certainly not “dumb or something” with her portrayal of Lamont and makes the character her own, whilst wonderfully emulating the voice that is deemed unsuitable for movie audiences. Her solo, What’s Wrong With Me?, is a culmination of her talents and is the highlight of the second half.
Adeptly directed and choreographed by Phill Ruddy, the principals are backed by a lively chorus in numerous dancing sequences, including the infamous Broadway Melody. The more experienced members of the chorus stand out here and perhaps others need to take a page from their script to ensure a more consistent performance throughout. A sprinkling of well-rehearsed and confident cameo roles complete the onstage line up, with too many notable to mention.
Backed by appropriate set and lighting with a colourful set of costumes and wonderful pre-filmed silent movies and talking pictures, this is a perfect way to revisit or introduce yourself to a classic comedy musical that will see you leaving with a smile.
Tickets are available from Harrogate Theatre Box Office on 01423 502116 or www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk and range from £10 – £16 with concessions and group discounts available.