Footlights’ production of Singin’ in the Rain was a remarkable success, more than doing justice to the 1952 Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen-directed classic film. The student-led production included the original’s song and dance numbers, performed with enormous talent. They maintained all the film’s feel-good energy, filling the stage at the Northcott Theatre with near professional levels of flair. Running until Saturday 27th January, it is well worth making the time to see the show first-hand to appreciate the incredible talent of this university society, and to enjoy a music and laughter-filled evening with a classic Hollywood feel.
The romantic comedy explores the inner workings of Hollywood, in particular the life of famous actor Don Lockwood as he navigates the changing film industry in 1920s America. With the help of his long-term friend Cosmo Brown, he overcomes obstacles put in place by his cruel co-star Lina Lamont, and finally finds love and contentment in the arms of the charming and talented Kathy Selden. The tale attests to the simple message of love’s redemptive power, and the triumph of virtue over malice. The spirit, humour and warmth of the original was transmitted and matched in Footlights’ production on Wednesday.
The leading man Don was portrayed impressively by George Maddison who sang, danced and acted throughout the show, with equal talent and charisma, and seemingly without respite. The role of Kathy meanwhile was played by Alice Potter who filled Debbie Reynold’s role beautifully, performing an impressive range of songs and choreography while embodying the character’s charm. Romantic sequences between the pair were touching and picturesque. A firm favourite amongst fans of the film, the song Good Morning was recreated to absolute perfection, its fast-paced choreography and positive message leaving it impossible not to smile.
One of the show’s greatest accomplishments was the representation of Cosmo, superbly captured with humour, talent and incredible energy by Andy Sharpe, who sang with precision and power while undertaking quick, complex and comic choreography. His solo Make ‘Em Laugh, as in the original film, was perhaps the highlight of the entire show, which, alongside energetic, playful numbers such as Fit as a Fiddle and Moses Supposes, carried the musical’s effervescent dynamic spectacularly. The villain of the tale meanwhile, Lina Lamont, was played by Kathryn Pridgeon, who with laudable skill, fused the irritating character with tremendous comic touch. During her solo What’s Wrong With Me?, she interacted with the audience to magnificent effect, and despite being the villain of the plot, was never wholly unlikeable.
The skill and effort of the director David Ballard, choreographer Charlotte Blakeman and the production team were evident in the near faultless performance. Sound and lighting were impeccable, while the smoothness and rapidity of the set changes, transitions between scenes and costume changes were executed seamlessly and to an incredibly high standard. Supported by a highly talented student band throughout, the musical met my every desire. The first student production I have had the pleasure of seeing, I was astounded at the quality of the work the team had clearly put in.
Aside from a well-handled microphone mishap during the title number Singin’ in the Rain and a couple of umbrella malfunctions, the performance was near-perfect, and minor errors in this preview performance were managed smoothly and with professionalism. An incredible undertaking, masterfully pulled off by the student theatre group, Footlights’ Singin’ in the Rain was a heart-warming celebration of the classic film: energetic, skilful and brimming with passion.
– Katie Rivers
Featured image belongs to Footlights society.