As we wait for the arrival of one of the greatest musicals of all time to get into town, we thought this would be a good chance to look back at the incredible SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. It really has to be one of the stand-out classics, but actually, although we all know it for the amazing songs, it is in fact a Dance Movie.
When it was first released in 1952 it was a bit of a ground breaking film and was sold as being like ‘nothing else that had come before‘, in a genre all of its own, which is probably why it only did modestly well at the box office. Since then, Singin’ in the Rain has been accorded legendary status by critics, and is frequently regarded as the best film musical ever made, and the best film ever made at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The movie is ranked as the fifth-greatest American motion picture of all time in its updated list of the greatest American films.
Watching the film on our screens is one thing, but it’s only when you see this story live on stage can you truly appreciate the mastery that goes into the song and dance classic and fortunately, we all get the chance to do just that when the latest tour pulls into the Wales Millenium from the 23rd of May.
A little word of warning however, there are only 8 performances only, so I’d get in quick if you’re thinking of treating yourself to a ticket.
The cast we have in Cardiff are top-notch and sure to deliver something pretty special on the Donald Gordon stage, which is made for a show of this size. SAM LIPS, CHARLOTTE GOOCH and JENNY GAYNER are joined by Strictly favourite KEVIN CLIFTON who takes on the role of Cosmo Brown, which of course was made movie famous by Donald O’Conner. Which does of course mean he gets to perform ‘Make Em Laugh’ which is such an iconic routine, and sure to make a splash live.
Just in case the film has passed you by, or you’ve been transported to another planet for the last 70 years, here’ the story…..
We journey back to the glamour of Hollywood during the roaring 20’s. Silent movie star Don Lockwood has it all, a string of hit films and a studio-engineered romance with the most beautiful actress in town.
What Don doesn’t know is that the silver screen is about to find its voice, and a chance meeting with a talented young chorus girl set to steal his heart promises to change both Don, and Hollywood, forever.
It’s your typical boy meets girl, girl hates boy, but secretly loving him type plot, with some of the catchiest songs you’ll find anywhere.
As I mentioned the cast are first rate with Sam Lips (CATS, Chicago, West, Side Story, On the Town and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) setting the pace as Don Lockwood. Charlotte Gooch (Strictly Ballroom and Top Hat in the West End, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage) is the love interest Kathy Selden. Jenny Gayner (The Girls, Chicago and Spamalot in the West End and Annie and The Rocky Horror Show on tour) is Lina Lamont, which is a tough role playing someone who can’t sing, when in fact is such a great vocalist.
You may have also seen Jenny a while back in The Trial of Gillian Taylorforth, she was excellent in the titular role.
Then there is Kevin Clifton who is undoubtedly best known for BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing. In seven years on the show Kevin reached the final a record five times, winning four glitter balls including the main show Glitterball trophy in 2018 with Stacee Dooley before leaving in 2019.
Since then, he’s pretty much spent his life on stage (pandemic permitting). He made his West End musical theatre debut in Dirty Dancing The Musical in 2010. More recently he’s played played Stacee Jaxx in the UK tour of Rock Of Ages and the lead role of Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer in London.
Kevin will also be back at the WMC early next year as Scott Hastings in Strictly Ballroom The Musical, which is choreographed by another Strictly legend, CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD.
Singin’ In The Rain however, will tick a few professional boxes for Kevin I would imagine. It strikes me as a real dancers show.
I was fortunate enough to see TOMMY STEELE in the original London Palladium production, twice I might add, and it was phenomenal then. Skip forward all these years and I’m sure this production will surpass even that one.
What you get with Singin’ In The Rain is high-energy choreography and sumptuous set design and they promise us over 14,000 litres of water on stage every night. When you actually see it raining on stage you’ll marvel in just how they do it, it’s an incredible sight.
Add to that all the charm, romance and wit of one of the world’s best-loved films, and you have one incredible night at the theatre.
So what about those songs?
To be honest it’s like watching a greatest hits of MGM classics with the likes of ‘Good Morning‘ , ‘Moses Supposes‘, ‘Make em Laugh‘, and of course ‘Singin’ in the Rain‘ itself.
There’s a few things you expect with a show like this – great song and dance is top of the list. Rain, we get that by the bucketload. Umbrellas, yes plenty of those too. and there are two dance moves in the film which are stand-out moments, one involves a sofa, the other a wall, and if you’ve watched the film you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to. Whether we get those on stage or not, remains to be seen when you go to see the show.
As you can tell, the team here are fans of the show, and of course the classic movie. So while you’re enjoying your ice cream and skimming through the programme, here’s a few Singin’ In The Rain facts you can bore your loved one with.
The movie not only starred Gene Kelly but he also directed it, and by all accounts he was more than a tough taskmaster. But it was one of the other stars who cleaned up at the awards.
Donald O’Connor won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green won the Writers Guild of American Award for their screenplay, while Jean Hagen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The movie is actually a bit of a thief, or should we say it borrows songs made famous by older movies. For instance, ‘Good Morning. was performed by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in the 1937 film Babes in Arms. Judy also performed the film’s title track, ‘Singing in the Rain‘, in the 1940 film Little Nellie Kelly.
- Debbie Reynolds had to be carried away from set. She damaged her legs through vigorous dance routines.
- Everyone was afraid of Gene Kelly and his exceptionally high standards.
- Gene had a temperature of 103 and a fever but continued dancing through it – in the rain.
- Debbie Reynolds said that making Singin’ in the Rain and surviving childbirth were the two hardest things she’s ever had to do.
- The songs came first. All the songs were ready long before there was a plot and script.
- The original film negatives are lost.
- Singin’ in the Rain was only a modest hit when it was first released.
- Debbie Reynolds took the bus to the set. She was 19 and lived with her parents, and go the bus to work.
- The censors snipped the ballet scene saying it was a little too raunchy. If you watch carefully you can still see the slight jump where they cut the film.
- Debbie Reynolds was a trained gymnast not dancer. At one point she found it so hard, she hid under a piano, Fred Astaire found her there crying.
This production has some pretty impressive behind the scenes figures too……..
- The show uses 6k litres of water, equivalent to 5 tonnes (these also weigh 5 tonnes: 2 Rhinos, 11 Grand Pianos or 30 Panda Bears!).
- Uses over 100 metres of heavy-duty rubber hose.
- Takes 15 minutes to drain. Afterwards, it is recovered, it is then recycled, cleaned and used again
- Heats the water to 37 degrees for performer comfort!
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN gets to the Wales Millennium Centre from Monday 23rd through to Saturday 28th May. Performances are at 7:30pm each evening with a 2:30pm matinee on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets, which start at £19 are available now. You can get more details, and yours HERE.