Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Singin' in the Rain (Palace Theatre) - a splashing good time

Singing in the Rain Palace Theatre London review
Singin' in the Rain on a rainy day... (photo by garryknight)

Singin' in the Rain
Palace Theatre
Address: Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 5AY
Phone: 0844 412 4656
Nearest Tube station: Leicester Square
Singin' in the Rain, a musical adapted most faithfully on an MGM classic, currently occupies Palace Theatre located prominently at the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road. A host of colourful umbrellas lie on top of the entrance, you just can't miss it.

What the audience said is true: those poor souls who so unfortunately splashed out for the stall seats would end up being very wet indeed. Well, brace yourself if you're seating in the first four rows. If you are seated on row A-B Seat 1 to 15, bring along a raincoat. Since the actors are mostly right legged, these seats lying on the right of the stage tend to get the brunt of the splashing.

I've not got the chance to watch the original 1952 movie but look no further if you need some cheering up. Set in 1927, Don Lockwood (Ad Cooper) and Lina Lamont (Katherine Kingsley) were the stars in the silent movie era when movies with sounds broke into the scenes. These movies or "talkies" threatened the livelihoods of actors whose vocals weren't particularly endearing. It hit Lina Lamont whose heavy Bronx accent would soiled her onscreen sex goddess image.

Enter upcoming actress Kathy Shelden (Scarlet Strallen) whose clean voice would gladden any heart. Lockwood fell for Shelden and Lamont felt threatened. When the producer decided to dubbed Shelden's voice over Lamont's without consulting the latter, it further incurred her wrath.

And the splashin' begins...

The sets were nicely done with many scenes featuring the entire cast doing swing numbers. The entire 1.5hr first half was all hyped up with almost non-stop fast paced singing and dancing. Then again, this is a musical, isn't it? But who are we kidding? The audience was waiting for just one scene.

The skies lit up with distant lightning, taps were turned on and the rain scene was up at last as Lockwood walked Shelden back to her home. As the iconic scene that gave the show its name started, Lockwood twirled around the stage and belting out Singin' in the Rain.

What could have ended the first interval on a wistful note became a game of splash instead. Cooper sidestepping around the stage kicked the puddles of water towards the audience at every chance. Those up front were futilely avoiding being splashed while the rest of us were just thankful that we weren't them an laughing at their misfortune. Their ordeal didn't end there. There was an even bigger splash at the final scene of the musical when the entire cast all joined in.

There were some memorable tunes: Strallen's playful and sultry My Lucky Star, Cooper and his sidekick, Cosmo Brown's (Daniel Crossley) catchy Moses Supposes and even Kingsley's bitter What's Wrong with Me. But I thought the musical would be remembered for just one scene and for the wrong reasons - all wet ones. For it was quite clear that when the taps open, all the audience care for was whether those unfortunate rows up front got sprayed.

If you are getting tickets for Singin' in the Rain, avoid those stalls within Leicester Square tube station itself. Instead go to the TKTS at Leicester Square instead. The stall seats (face value of £65) are sold for £57 at the tube station stalls but only £39 (+£3 admin charge) at TKTS. However, if you want to pre-book tickets at the comforts of your home, buy online at London Theatre Direct

For a quick pre-theatre bite that wouldn't bust your budget, check out 5 cheap places to eat at Chinatown (Leicester Square). 

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