Singin' in the Rain
17th October 2019
The Swan Theatre, Worcester
Type of Production
Author: Louise Hickey MBE for Bruce Wyatt
It was my great pleasure to attend last night’s performance of Singin’ in the Rain performed by the very accomplished company WODS. The warm welcome was an indication of the evening ahead.
The simple set was effective allowing each scene to be identified by the addition of props and this worked well. Some of the set changes appeared a little long but this was probably due to my anticipation for the enjoyment we were experiencing. Using entrances to and from stage through the auditorium gave an authenticity to the production that is well known by most.
The opening was fast-paced as the ‘stars’ arrived for the premiere of the latest Lockwood and Lamont silent movie. Judy Hooper playing reporter Dora, was the archetypal pushy newshound who was looking to reveal the love interest of the two stars. It was nice to see Toby Burchell portray Charlie Chaplin amongst the guests. It was also the first opportunity to see the gorgeous costumes that were worn by the cast throughout. This really was a glamorous period and the attention to detail was amazing: well done wardrobe! The vignettes portraying Don and Cosmo’s early years were danced brilliantly by Thomas Ash, Harvey Lewis, Carter Chilton and Haydn Jenkins.
Matt Sudworth as Don Lockwood was wonderful. His performance was effortless and epitomised the term hoofer. His dance moves were amazing, the foot flicks and body sways looked so natural that this was the best amateur male dancing performance I have seen, and he can act too! His confidence in his own performance and the chemistry he had with Faith Newrick as Kathy and Elliot Kainey as Cosmo was tangible. The comedic exchange with Meghan Hill as Lina was hysterical and again the fluidity of movement between them was so natural. But most of all I loved his singing ability he has such a lovely tone.
Elliot Kainey was my absolute favourite in this production. His comic timing, facial expressions and slapstick pratfalls were inspired. What a talent. It is hard not to try and copy the inimitable Donald O’Connor, but this was by far, the best I have seen. His effervescence and use of stage were brilliant, particularly for the ‘Make em’ Laugh’ number. He was so aware of his positioning and made the most of his capabilities and physical energy which he expounded in abundance. Whilst Choreographer, Jenny O’Brien, did a fantastic job, it must have been an absolute joy working with the talented principal men. The duet ‘Moses’ by Elliot and Matt was fantastic.
Faith Newrick made a lovely Kathy and as already mentioned seemed totally relaxed in her scenes with Matt. Her song and dance abilities were great although I was a little disappointed with her rendition of ‘Good Morning’ as I thought it lacked a little of the brightness usually associated with this number, but her duets with Matt were simply lovely, and the dance routine culminating with the trio on the sofa was executed with precision.
Meghan Hill was fabulous as Lina Lamont. Her voice and accent were outstanding, in every sense of the word. The portrayal of the not so dumb blond was hilarious as was her cringe-worthy rendition of ‘What’s Wrong with me?’ which could only be sung so well by a truly talented actress. Meghan’s facial expressions and stroppy movements spoke volumes and her comedic timing matched Elliot’s to a T. The audience was in absolute fits every time she pronounced ‘Can’t’ and you could tell that Meghan absolutely relished this role. But what a role to have and she certainly did it justice.
The supporting cast members were all excellent, especially Neil Waghorn as R.F. Simpson and Toby Edwards as Roscoe Dexter. The ensemble sang and danced their way through the show with pure delight, but then why wouldn’t they, with numbers like ‘You Stepped out of a Dream’, ‘Broadway Melody’ and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’?
This was a technical show, in so much, as a great part of the plot is based on talking pictures and so the audience were treated to several screened scenes which were quite frankly hilarious. The slow motion Yes and No section was superbly executed and the cameo appearance of Bruce Wyatt demonstrating the principles of the talkies was brilliant. The production of the un-synchronised film, static and all, was extremely realistic.
I particularly liked the lighting plot, although they were slightly out of sync, but that’s me being really picky. The orchestra was nicely balanced and at no time did it overpower the performers, even when underscoring dialogue.
You couldn’t do ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ without the rain and this was also done very well. Logistically it had to be upstage, but it would have had a better effect if it could have been downstage a little. The dance routine was great and differed slightly to the film version which gave it a uniqueness making it a pleasant change. I thought Matt’s enthusiasm for getting wet was commendable.
The finale was a lovely way to show off the talents of the entire ensemble especially in the handling of that most temperamental prop, the umbrella! All I can say is, it was faultless. The look of pure pleasure on everyone’s face was infectious and it was really hard not to join in, the enthusiasm was palpable.
This well directed show was an absolute delight, thank you so much for inviting me.