Singin' in the Rain

Date 2nd April 2022
Society Newark Amateur Operatic Society
Venue Palace Theatre, Newark
Type of Production Musical
Director Mike Follen
Musical Director Gary Wyatt
Choreographer Cassey Brough-Savage
Written By Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed

Report

Author: Stuart Bull

Have no doubts about it – this is a big show with a lot of technical difficulties, big, big dance numbers and of course those famous songs that everybody knows. You have to be ambitious to pull it off – and Newark AOS pulled it off big time. The show deals with a famous 1930s silent-movie couple who are making the tricky transition to talkies- but the lady in the pairing (Lina Lamont, played with great comic timing by Roseann Edis) has an adenoidal helium-high voice and can’t sing. Her partner, the handsome Don Lockwood (played stylishly by William Dewick) has in the meantime found a new leading lady (Kathy Selden, with Lucy Dale perfect in this role) to share his life. She has the looks, the acting ability, and a great voice. Needless to say, fireworks follow. Mention should be made of Ollie Kirkwood playing a loose-limbed Cosmo Brown, who sang and danced in perfect synchrony with William Dewick – a great pairing. Other principals impressed with Justin Day as the harassed film director Roscoe Dexter, and Andrew Fearn as the studio boss R.F. Simpson. Ella Morelle stood out as Zelda Zanders – a talent for the future, I am sure.

The ambience of the Palace Theatre is impressive, and it was nice to be warmly welcomed by Chairman Rita Crowe and her husband – thank you for your hospitality. Front of House ran smoothly, and the programme that I was presented with also is truly impressive.

As soon as the overture started the orchestra impressed. Gary Wyatt, the Musical Director, has an impressive pedigree, and the band under his leadership were well-balanced and never overwhelmed the singers, as sometimes happens.

The sets and scenery from Scenic Projections were very good, and the projection effects (hilariously hammed silent-movies acted by the cast) well done. The famous “Rain” scene was impressive. Stage management was seamless.

Props were very effective, particularly during the comic dance scenes, and lighting and sound-effects spot-on.

Costumes and make-up couldn’t be faulted.

Mike Follen as Director put together a great show and he must be very proud of his team. The acting was of good quality, the music and singing first rate, and the chorus excellent. Particular mention must be made of the choreography, which was of a very high standard. I particularly enjoyed the tap routines – always a favorite.

The most unexpected part of the production was Nicci Hindson with her dancing dog – was it Elsa that I saw? Shoehorned into the show during the “backstory” as a variety act, Nicci and her dog captivated the audience with oohs! and aahs! all around. Brilliant!

A poignant note in the programme told us that the society lost three members last year : Jill Ball; and mother and daughter Betty Dawes and Georgina Tagg. Georgina played Kathy Selden the last time NAOS produced Singin’ in the Rain and the show was dedicated to her memory.

So the overall feeling driving home, humming the tunes, was one of satisfaction at seeing such a good show in our Region. Well done all concerned.