Singin in the Rain

Date 6th April 2018
Society B & B Young Peoples Theatre Group
Venue Players Theatre (The Bethel)
Type of Production Musical
Director Andrew Groom and Louise Harrison
Musical Director Frankie Ayers
Choreographer Katy Beales
Vocal Coach - SM Rob Shipton - Simon Groom

Report

Author: Terry Rymer

 This Group was formed by, with, and for young people who at the time were still at school six years ago, and they have gone from strength to strength tackling some major musicals often using the adult versions…’Singing in the Rain’ was no exception. The full score and libretto certainly would test the most ambitious society. It is therefore my intention to acknowledge the young team responsible for the  complete revamp and rebuild of the stage at The Bethel to accommodate the ‘kit’ necessary to provide the deluge of rain which accompanies the iconic song of the title! I especially mention Co Director Andrew and Stage Manager Simon Groom and friends, who deserve enormous praise for the resulting effect which was outstanding! I viewed this transformation and was indeed in awe of the manner and effectiveness of this particular scene…(see also attached comment on cinematography).

   Now to the show itself, so often with youth shows this can be a bit ‘Curates egg’…but here we had a production which, viewed through adult eyes, was worthy of comparison with any presented by an adult cast. There were so many outstanding performances on stage that it would be difficult to mention them all especially as several were double cast! (necessary over eight performances! (with three matinees!).

   The stylish and ever present Don Lockwood (Deaglan Devine) gave a constant and reassuring interpretation of the star of the time who, with a nice laid back style combining some arrogance with a touch of humility, was totally in command as he had to cope with his somewhat petulant co star Lina Lamont (Camrin Chappell and Jamie Coleman). I first saw Camrins performance and was bowled over by her mature and convincing interpretation of the diva of silent movies but with the squeaky voice of a strangled mouse! She never faltered with this demanding role showing poise and control beyond her years. (see extra comment for double cast Jamie Coleman.)

    Dons partner in crime and confidant, Cosmo Brown (Joshua Parks) was the comedian of the piece who, as with his signature song ‘Make ‘em Laugh’, really did just that, and indeed his every move showed real comedy timing which is the mark of natural ability. His delivery of that song underlined his versatility which shone through at his every entrance. As the harassed Stage Manager, Roscoe Dexter (Wesley Smith) was clearly the diplomat and man in charge of the ‘on screen’ productions which were the subject of change as sound on screen was introduced. He was nicely in charge of his task and looked just right. Studio Manager RF Simpson (Olivia Mannell) showed  a very convincing side as she showed her ability to cope with Lina when confronted by her demands. Again she had excellent control and delivery in dealing with a sensitive decision to allow Kathy Seldon (Amy Mullen-Brown and Evie Forsdicke) who, after their initial ‘difficult’ meeting, was to become Don’s girlfriend and preferred screen partner. Vocals were excellent and the revelation scene was well delivered as she is revealed as the voice cover behind the ‘rumbled’ Lina. It was a great scene of ‘come uppance ‘ and retribution! (see extra comment for double cast Evie Forsdicke).

  Other cameo roles were all well cast and like Zelda Zanders (Millie Carver), Dora Bailey (Lauren Benjamin), Rod (Oliver Kane) were delivered with style and confidence. Dancers and supporting acts were equally well drilled and added that extra touch to a fine all round performance, which together with a live sixteen piece orchestra (sixteen!) situated above the stage, gave the audience a real treat as was heard to be echoed by those, including the Mayor, on leaving the hall. Well done to all!

We look forward to the ever popular ‘Sound of Music ‘ next year.

 (Second viewing addendum:)

Extra review of double casting Lina Lamont (Jamie Coleman):

Jamie gave a really convincing performance with the need to sustain the high pitched falsetto necessary to prove her unsuitability for ‘talking’ movies. Just occasionally this meant a loss of clarity but more than made up with her stage persona and, as with both Lina’s, the scene with the microphones was well timed and brought out the humour and her own denial of  character flaws which became obvious during the ‘blackmail’ over her contract with RF.  Both castings of this role were exceptional and worthy of audience acclaim. I was privileged to see them both! 

Extra review of double casting Kathy Seldon (Evie Forsdicke):

Here we had equally well cast characterisations with nothing to choose between them from the interpretation of the role. Perhaps worthy of note were the outstanding vocals from Evie who will no doubt prove a future star where principal singing is the main requirement. These two showed excellent convincing stage presence with mature acting skills. Audiences would have been impressed with either of these castings!

Extra comment on the cinematography used throughout :

The additional bonus of pre-recorded scenes from the silent black and white movie era, plus the early attempt at ‘talkies’, was well directed and portrayed form local outdoor locations to enhance the storyline as required…another technical success contributing to the overall strength of this show!