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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Danielle Roper

Review: Singin' in the Rain at Opera House

It's 70 years since the release of the iconic 1952 film Singin' in the Rain, but carefree never goes out of fashion. Hence the stage version being hailed as one of the best movie musicals ever as it makes its return to Manchester Opera House.

Set in glamorous 1920s Hollywood, it follows the story of silent movie star Don Lockwood - the role made famous by Gene Kelly in the film. He and his co-star Lina Lamont must navigate a key turning point in film history - the scary new world of the 'talkies'.

Don has nothing but contempt for the vain, squeaky voiced diva Lina with her garbled 'Nuu Yoik' diction - "I cayn't staaaind' 'im!" and dire singing voice. His dislike of her makes for an amusing scene where he appears to be wooing her but is spewing insults as he does.

Read more: Beauty and the Beast at Manchester's Palace Theatre is an 'absolute must-see'

This is followed by another entertaining silent movie skit where we see Lina and her co-star's actions comically mismatched to the dialogue.

Adam Cooper as Don (Manuel Harlan)

Adam Cooper's Don is suitably smooth and smarmy while Jenny Gayner's Lina adds great comic value with her massive ego vastly disproportionate to her 'talent'. It's described perfectly in the line: "With your voice, they might bring silent movies back!"

Don's friend Cosmo, played with aplomb by Ross McLaren, is the other character highlight of the night. He showcases his delightful mastery of physical comedy in the slapstick song 'Make 'Em Laugh'.

The dancing is as impressive as you could want - silken waves of gorgeousness one minute and fleet-footed fabulousness the next in numbers such as Moses Supposes and Good Morning. Charlotte Gooch, as rising star and Don's love interest Kathy Selden, showcases her impressive singing talents in songs such as Would You?

Other characters' vocals are technically good but could have more oomph in parts, in the title song especially. The costumes are a perfect rainbow of optimism against the muted background scenery.

Water everywhere (Manuel Harlan)

The score too is upbeat and delightfully uncomplicated. It would be no great loss if one or two of the less standout tunes were dropped though as the first half does feel rather drawn out.

It leaves Don's big solo Singin' in the Rain number at the end, with water pouring from the ceiling and into the audience - watch out front row - losing a little of its impact, the audience by that point needing a different kind of liquid refreshment - that or an urgent loo visit. Placing the song instead at the start of the second half would give audiences more of an opportunity to soak up its beauty.

This production is a pleasant splash of fun rather than a smash hit, but if you're a musicals superfan and don't demand a stellar storyline, you'll likely head home singing on the train.

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