Singin’ in the Rain is a barrel of fun, with great songs, plenty of tapping numbers and a happy ending to boot; it’s a pity more of these fun loving shows aren’t being written today.
Babirra are living up to their name as being one of the top companies in Victoria with their latest offering.
Alan Burrows gave us everything we could want from this production and more. From the moment the overture started, we were met with projections of the leading players, as you would expect from a movie. It was a nice touch. The movement never stopped, and it was running like a well-oiled machine, there were not any opening night mishaps, which was nice to see.
Burrows has put together a talented cast, whose tapping and singing abilities could rival some of the professional casts I’ve seen in the past. Partnered with Amy Wert as musical director and Kristy Griffin as choreographer, Burrows had a recipe for success.
Wert had all the vocals sounding tight and great, and when your cast is exuding so much energy tap dancing, that is no mean feat. On top of this, her orchestra was in fine form, giving us a rich lush sound that this show deserves.
Griffin brings a wealth of experience to role as choreographer. Griffin had most the cast tapping as one, and those who couldn’t tap didn’t look out of place with their well thought out and well placed movements. The song, “Good Morning”, was especially well choreographed and danced by our three lead actors. It’s not often you see a show when after a number has finished that the applause keeps going and going until the leading man virtually had to cut it off with his next line of dialogue.
Barry Pearce’s set was well thought out and executed. The only issue I had was the lamppost for the iconic song, “Singin’ in the Rain”. It looked like it was going to fall over a couple of times, which was a bit disappointing. Having a container built into the set for the rain to be collected in was very clever. I know how funny theatres can be about getting their stage wet, and although it was more of a mist than rain, when our leading man stomped and jumped in the container it was to great effect.
Elizabeth Watson nailed the costumes, which were full of colour and suited the period with splashes of glamour thrown in. Marcello Lo Ricco once again gave us a thrilling sound experience, one that especially noticeable in the scenes where the action is being played back stage, you could hear the audience applause from the stage area, and then when the action was in front of the curtain, the applause was heard from the auditorium. This was very effective and well executed.
Regan Wood deserved his own bow on opening night, for producing the extremely well made movies that are projected within the show. Wood’s colouring and titles were spot on and expertly edited, giving us a true representation of the silent film era.
The lighting designer was Deryk Hartwick, who did not garner a bio with the rest of the production team for some reason. Hawick’s lighting design fitted the rest of the production beautifully. Harwick has done an excellent job in creating a functional and highly attractive design.
Robbie Wilkton and Abbey Hansson bring their “A game” to the roles of Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon respectfully. Both with great voices and dancing abilities, they sang and danced circles around their roles, and I believe that both will relax into their parts over the next few performances.
Jeremy Russo was a stand out as Cosmo Brown and his performances of “Make ‘em Laugh” and “Moses Supposes” were highlights of the night.
Emily Mignot had the harder role of the ditzy Lina Lamont. Having to sing out of tune is actually hard, especially when you can hear Mignot’s real voice struggling to get through. Mignot stole every scene she was in and has great comedic timing. She was clearly a crowd favourite, and after seeing her as Roxie Hart last year, it is a pity this audience could not hear her true voice.
It was great to see company president, Owen Davis in a small but crowd-pleasing cameo.
A special shout out has to go to Lachlan Sonnemann and Joshua Simos-Garner who played young Don and Cosmo. These young men are terrific singers and dancers and it’s great to see that the art of dancing is still alive and well with our youth.
In the supporting cast, there was not a weak link. Tim Murphy as R.F Simpson, Ashleigh Psaila as Dora Bailey, David Miller as Roscoe Dexter and Shane Pritchard as the production tenor were all in fine form on opening night and Pritchard’s solo in “Beautiful Girl” was breathtaking.
Singin’ in the Rain has two more weeks left at the Whitehorse Centre, running through until Saturday June 16th, but at the time of writing of this review, there are only a handful of tickets left on a couple of nights. If you want to see this great production, you will have to get in quickly.