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Review: When it rains, it pours - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN makes a splash in Toronto

Review: When it rains, it pours - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN makes a splash in Toronto

The classic film and it's signature music come to life on stage through October 23

In a world where films are constantly being adapted for the stage, it's refreshing to see a stage production that came from a movie and still shines like the sun on a rainy day, despite the difference in medium.

Mirvish's SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (The Chichester Festival Theatre and Stage Entertainment production, presented by Michael Harrison and Jonathan Church), directed by Jonathan Church, has blown into Toronto for a limited run at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Based on the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer film of the same name (screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed), the story remains similar to the film. As talking motion pictures are introduced, silent film starts Don Lockwood (Sam Lips) and Lina Lamont (Faye Tozer) are forced to adapt to their shifting careers. For Don, it's an easy task given his ability to sing, dance, and act with ease. For Lina, who's challenged with a distinctly tone-deaf voice...not so much. Don's longtime friend Cosmo Brown (Alastair Crosswell) comes up with a nearly foolproof way to save Lockwood and Lamont's newest film, which involves having the talented Kathy Selden (Charlotte Gooch) dub over Lina's footage. While the group has to deal with the fallout of Lina's fury once she discovers their plan, the story wraps with a simple happy ending befitting the romantic comedy genre.

Lips is a stellar Don, exuding all the charm you'd expect from a 1920's Hollywood star. His high energy makes the act one finale of the show's titular number a high-energy, high-impact performance, and his chemistry with Gooch makes every romantic scene between the couple that much sweeter.

Gooch enters as a fiery, capable Kathy and maintains the earnest goodness of the character throughout. It's easy to root for her from her first moments on stage, and her stellar vocal performances - either solo or paired off - really drive home Kathy's talent, making the challenges she faces later in the story even more empathetic.

As Don's (and eventually Kathy's) friend Cosmo, Crosswell is a bright spot in a busy ensemble. His performance of 'Make 'Em Laugh' is a high-energy romp through quite possibly every comedic gag from classic cinema, which sets the tone for his character. One particular highlight of the entire performance is the trio's performance of 'Good Morning', which perfectly captures the vibe of being out way too late with your friends and enjoying every moment of it.

Tozer makes for a commanding Lina Lamont, and even at her most dislikable moments it's hard to completely hate her. Tozer's take on 'What's Wrong With Me' is funny when it needs to be, but with a more sincere undertone that exposes the insecurities (or lack thereof) of Lina's character. As the studio head RF Simpson (Michael Brandon), Brandon effectively lays into the more comedic parts of the executive, including an impromptu tap performance that was a crowd-pleaser on opening night.

The set (set and costume design by Simon Higlett) is simple throughout, including grey-beige walls of a Hollywood soundstage with plenty of frosted pane windows and a massive door that allows characters and set pieces to move on and off stage. Lighting (lighting design) complements the simple sets by creating a mix of pastel dreamscapes and neon bright city scenes, all of which feel like a nod to the cinematic origins of the show. The show stopping rain scenes - both Don's performance of 'Singin' in the Rain' at the end of act one, and a special scene during curtain calls, claim to use thousands of litres of water for moments that are stunning, playful, and extremely innovative for a stage production.

The inclusion of film (video design by Ian William Galloway) in the musical feels especially right, as it gives audiences a chance to watch Lockwood and Lamont's works as if they themselves were in the cinema. A few other fourth-wall breaking moments - and parts that are less of an active engagement between cast and audience, and more the audience being splashed with the casts' rain-scene antics - make for engaging, memorable scenes that'll likely be remembered long after the first few rows' clothes dry off.

There were moments when it was a bit hard to make out characters' dialogue within musical numbers, and the dream sequences in the second act felt long and a bit disjointed compared to the shorter, snappy scenes that make up the majority of the musical. Regardless, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is a joyful splash of a show that lovingly brings the roaring twenties back to life, if only for a few hours


Mirvish's SINGIN' IN THE RAIN runs through October 23 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W, Toronto, ON

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.mirvish.com/shows/singin-in-the-rain

Photo credit: Johan Persson


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From This Author - Isabella Perrone

Isabella Perrone is a writer with a love for musicals and theatre that goes all the way back to her childhood. Born and raised in St. Catharines, ON, she would blast Broadway cast albums at home on... (read more about this author)


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