Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Review: Singin' in the Rain at the Salisbury Playhouse

Singin' in the Rain
Salisbury Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th May 2016

Singin' in the Rain is back with an all new actor-musician production helmed by Elizabeth Newman. Currently playing at Salisbury Playhouse, the show is set to also play the Octagon Theatre in Bolton and New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

With timeless music and a charming story, you can't go wrong with Singin' in the Rain. The piece centres around silent movie star Don Lockwood who falls for aspiring actress Kathy Selden, much to the disgust of his long-time co-star Lina Lamont. 

Newman's take on the show is boldly different to recent stagings of the musical. Most notably, there aren't big company dance numbers - there is movement from the ensemble, but choreography is limited as they're also playing instruments. Although a few of the cast seem a little too young, it's impossible not to be impressed by these actors who can play several instruments whilst performing in a musical.

Leading the cast is West End actor Matthew Croke who reprises his performance as Don, having understudied the role in the glorious 2012 West End revival. Croke steps forward and proves himself as an almighty triple threat; his vocals are smooth, his presence is endearing whilst his dance ability is mesmerising. Performing the title song alone on stage at the end of the first half is no easy task, but Croke splashes his way to glory. His performance is nothing short of stellar, it can only be a matter of time before he lands another major role.

Starring opposite Croke is Christian Edwards as Cosmo Brown. Edwards has a ball with his big number 'Make 'Em Laugh', but overall the character gets a little lost within the piece - there is certainly more room for Cosmo to step into the limelight. On press night Eleanor Brown's vocals seemed a little shaky - perhaps due to nerves - but nevertheless she brought out Kathy's feisty side and made her mark.

Some shows thrive as an actor-musician production, but ultimately I don't think Singin' in the Rain is one of them. It feels like something is missing. However, with a superb leading man, Newman's production is still certainly worth a look.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Singin' in the Rain runs at the Salisbury Playhouse until 28th May. The production then plays the Octagon Theatre in Bolton (3rd-25th June) and New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme (30th June-16th July).

Photo Credit: Richard Davenport

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