Spotlight Theatrical Company’s Singin’ In The Rain is pure magic from beginning to end. This local Gold Coast theatre company’s rendition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s 1952 classic movie musical is something truly special. Originally written for the screen by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, featuring songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, Singin’ In The Rain is wonderfully adapted for the stage and yet remains firmly rooted in the golden era of Hollywood movie musicals.
Singin’ In The Rain follows the charismatic actor, Don Lockwood, as he traverses the transition from silent cinema to the ‘talkies’. This becomes an immense challenge when his normally silent, squeaky-voiced co-star, Lina Lamont, must act using her voice. But when Don meets Kathy Selden, with the voice of an angel, she steals his heart and he finds the solution to saving his Hollywood career. Kathy and Don, along with Don’s long-time friend, Cosmo, devise a clever plan to rescue the film.
Directed and choreographed by the immensely talented, Clay English, who also portrays Don Lockwood, this production is stellar. The choreography is phenomenal. From the very first duet tap dancing sequence in ‘Fit As A Fiddle’ to the flashy group numbers such as ‘All I Do’, it is spectacular. The direction is flawless, and English is clearly a fan of the original movie musical. His passion for the script shines through in the direction.
The musical direction by Shari Willner is to die for. The band perfectly supports every note of the vocals and never misses a beat. The vocals are executed with clear direction, beautiful harmonies and confidence. This is a credit to the skills of Willner’s musical direction. The musical elements of this show are seamlessly supported by the strong sound design of Nick Willner. The vocalists are easy to hear, the balance between the band and the vocals is great and the dancers’ taps can be clearly heard above the music.
The aesthetic elements of Singin’ In The Rain are stunning. Costumes designed by Laura English feature the classic fashion of the 1920s. The sequined numbers of the dancers in ‘All I Do’ are gorgeous. The iconic checkered suits of Cosmo and Don for the opening number ‘Fit as a Fiddle’ are marvelous. Lina Lamont’s white corset and robe and Kathy Selden’s romantic blue dress are fabulous and perfectly period appropriate.
The simple set design also created by Clay English features a beautifully painted backdrop of a Hollywood street and a streetlamp. The clever use of a curtain at the back of the stage allows the audience to be placed ‘backstage’ when Don and Lina go out at the movie premiere. A projector screen is ingeniously deployed to show some of the footage from Lina and Don’s movie. The incorporation of multimedia into the production is outstanding and serves the movie-based themes of the show well.
The lighting design is also created by Clay English it is delightfully romantic. In particular, the timeless scene with Don and Kathy in the studio. Don puts Kathy up on a ladder and then sets the scene of his romantic confession using the studio lights to create a sunset. The lighting design is so seamlessly executed, it is no trouble to believe that Don is creating this on the spot. The magnificent, soft pink, blue and orange lights create a perfect romantic setting for this gorgeous scene.
But of course, no discussion of the design of this show could be complete without mentioning the completely mind-blowing rain machine. This stage spectacle was also created and engineered by the fabulous Clay English and it is an absolute highlight of this show. The classic ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ number features a perfectly executed shower of rain from the stage ceiling and it makes this production an unquestionable must-see.
The cast of Singin’ In The Rain is magnificent. Clay English plays leading man, Don Lockwood with poise and perfect pitch. English is an excellent dancer who radiates pure joy when the music comes on and the tapping starts. He manages to make even difficult dancing look easy. It is hard not to smile non-stop when watching English perform. As Lockwood, he is a perfect, charismatic Hollywood star. Of course, English gives us the obvious highlight moment of the night in his flawless rendition of ‘Singin In The Rain’ when the sprinklers open and he sings with passion, dances with joy, splashing in the rain and spraying the audience in yellow ponchos seated in the “splash zone”. In this moment, every person in the audience is spellbound. Bravo!
Emma Leese is a charming and authentic Kathy Selden that the audience loves instantly. This young performer manages to fill the very big shoes of the iconic Debbie Reynolds who portrays Kathy in the original movie. Leese sings with an angelic voice and delivers each note with feeling. Her wit and passion shines through when she argues with Don and fights for her own place in Hollywood. Leese is an excellent dancer who truly enjoys being onstage.
Andrew King makes his Gold Coast theatre debut as the comedic friend, Cosmo Brown. King’s body language and facial expressions are hilarious and provides a nice change of pace from the romantic themes of the show. King is another superb tap dancer who performs alongside English with pure bliss. As a trio, English, Leese and King are simply magic. When they present the classic number ‘Good Morning’ there is not a single long face to be seen in the audience. This moment is pure, unsullied delight.
Tiahni Wilton is a standout of the night and brings us a multi-faceted Lina Lamont that is not only the villain of the show but also somehow not. Wilton’s portrayal of Lina with her annoying, squeaky voice is phenomenal. Wilton sustains the hilarious voice throughout the show and even in her singing of the song ‘What’s Wrong With Me?’. Her performance is so authentic that it makes a modern-day audience question the inherent sexism in this Hollywood classic. Adding this level of depth to a usually two-dimensional character is wonderful and a true credit to the skills of this talented performer.
The show also features a wonderfully, talented supporting cast including Russell White as R.F., Sean Curran as Roscoe, Joe Bourke Jnr as Rod, Molly Fogarty as Zelda Zanders, Joe De Goldi as Dora and the brilliant Michael Redfern as the Production Tenor. The show also features slew of brilliant dancers, including featured dancer, Sarah Kelly, and a spectacular ensemble.
Spotlight Theatrical Company’s production of Singin’ In The Rain is picture-book perfect and pure, golden age Hollywood movie musical magic. This production is not one that anyone will want to miss . It is possibly the best theatre produced in Southeast Queensland in 2021. It is delightful, joyful, and filled to the brim with stage magic. Bravo!
Singin In The Rain is playing for a sold-out season at the Halpin Auditorium until 20 November 2021. You can read more about the show and Spotlight Theatre here.