Review: Singin’ in the Rain, Sadler’s Wells

Singin’ in the Rain retains all of its charm from Chichester in this lovely revival at Sadler’s Wells

“You can charm the critics and have nothin’ to eat”

It’s a good 10 years since I was soaked to the skin at Chichester Festival Theatre at their delightful revival of this classic musical. It later transferred into London though I resisted revisiting (I had willpower then!), but Singin’ in the Rain‘s reappearance with a short run at Sadler’s Wells ahead of a mooted UK tour next year was an ideal summer indulgence.

And so it came to pass on a rainy British summer evening. Sat a little further back in the stalls, we avoided the splash zone inside, having also managed to dodge most of the showers outside. And spirits were easily lifted by Jonathan Church’s entirely cheerful production of this light and breezy show which captures so much of the charm of the original MGM film.
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News: full casting for Singin’ in the Rain at Sadlers Wells Theatre

Kevin Clifton, Faye Tozer, Charlotte Gooch and Cavin Cornwall are to join Adam Cooper to lead the Chichester Festival Theatre and Stage Entertainment production of the Olivier Award-nominated musical Singin’ in the Rain.

The production will play a strictly limited run at Sadler’s Wells from Friday 30 July – Sunday 5 September 2021, ahead of a 2022 UK tour (tour casting to be announced). Former professional Strictly Come Dancing favourite Kevin Clifton (theatre credits include Rock of Ages, UK Tour; Burn the Floor, West End, UK and International tours; Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, West End) will play Cosmo Brown. 

Steps and stage star Faye Tozer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, West End; Me and My Girl and Tell me on a Sunday, UK tours) plays leading lady Lina Lamont. Principal casting is completed by Charlotte Gooch (Strictly Ballroom and Top Hat in the West End, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, first UK Tour and West End) as aspiring actress Kathy Seldon and Cavin Cornwall (Disney’s Aladdin, Prince Edward Theatre; Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and world arena tour; Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as film producer, RF Simpson. Continue reading “News: full casting for Singin’ in the Rain at Sadlers Wells Theatre”

Lockdown theatre review: Curtains

The curtains are lifted once again for Curtains as it is available to watch online again

“I’m sorry but this theatre is in quarantine”

I enjoyed the Kander & Ebb musical Curtains when it made its long-awaited West End debut over the festive period, and was saddened when its ambitious UK tour had to be curtailed once lockdown was enforced. The producers had filmed a performance from early in the run though for their archive and have generously made it available to watch through their website here. And for the completist in me, it has turned out well as it meant I have the opportunity now to see Ore Oduba in the role that Andy Coxon covered for the West End stint.

Paul Foster’s production is great fun, full of wryly comic performances (Samuel Holmes is a standout here), stunning dance (Alan Burkitt – swoon!) and musical theatre gloriousness (you’ll wonder how Rebecca Lock isn’t a bigger name). And I don’t know about other people, but I’ve been craving escapist entertainment much more than anything too serious and Curtains certainly fits the bill (it’s all the more impressive considering it was indeed early in the run for them). Move quickly and watch it tonight!

Review: Curtains, Wyndham’s Theatre

A Kander & Ebb premiere in the West End you say? Curtains makes its bow at the Wyndham’s Theatre and I had an arrestingly good time with it

“Shall we all observe a moment of silence…
to match the audience’s response to Jessica’s first number”

There’s no denying that theatre loves shows about theatre and on the Charing Cross Road right now, you’ve got a play within a play at the Garrick right next to a musical about a musical at the Wyndham’s. Curtains ups the ante though by throwing in a murder mystery as well for good measure and the result is a something of a good old-fashioned romp, blessed with that rarest of things, a barely-known Kander & Ebb score. Having only received a few drama school productions (I saw it at Arts Ed

The show dates back to 2006 but had a tricky road to completion as original book writer Peter Stone died before finishing it, Rupert Holmes stepping in to rewrite, and Fred Ebb also passed away a year later, with Kander and Holmes completing the lyrical content. Curtains managed a relatively successful run on Broadway but for whatever reason, it never made the leap across the Atlantic (into the West End at least) until now, as Paul Foster’s touring production steps neatly into a scheduling gap to provide an alternative cup of Christmas cheer. Continue reading “Review: Curtains, Wyndham’s Theatre”

Review: Strictly Ballroom the Musical, Piccadilly

Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical may not be the strongest musical in the world, but it’s a stronger piece of musical theatre, thanks to Drew McOnie’s choreography

“Pam Shortt’s broken both her legs, and I wanna dance with you”

It is fascinating to be able to follow the development of a show, particularly one that has morphed as much as Strictly Ballroom the Musical. I saw it at the West Yorkshire Playhouse the winter before last, where it didn’t quite set my world on fire, so I was intrigued to hear that its arrival in the West End at the Piccadilly would be accompanied by quite the overhaul, still directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie.

The major change to this adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 cult hit movie comes with the introduction of bandleader Wally Strand, played by Will Young, an MC figure and human jukebox who takes on the vast majority of the evening’s singing. And as we skip from Grace Jones to Billy Idol, via Bowie, Whitney and Cyndi, it’s a real pleasure to hear him sing Marius De Vries’ brilliant new arrangements. Continue reading “Review: Strictly Ballroom the Musical, Piccadilly”

Review: An American in Paris, Dominion

“Who could ask for anything more”

True to its name, An American in Paris premiered in 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in the French capital to ecstatic reviews before transferring to the Palace Theatre on Broadway for another well-received (and Tony-winning) run there. It now rocks up at the newly refurbished Dominion Theatre, just ahead of another huge dance-heavy Broadway musical in 42nd Street, producers clearly banking on audiences wanting distraction from the realities of the outside world.

And that it certainly provides – director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s reinvention of the 1951 film (new book by Craig Lucas) is an absolute feast for the eyes and ears. George and Ira Gershwin’s score is beyond classic (‘I Got Rhythm’, ”S Wonderful’, ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me’ et al) and sounds luscious in Rob Fisher’s new arrangements musically directed by John Rigby, and Bob Crowley’s set and costumes look divine in all their old-school charm. Continue reading “Review: An American in Paris, Dominion”