Singin’ In The Rain Review – Palace Theatre
Don Lockwood – Francis Haugen
Kathy Selden – Scarlett Strallen
Cosmo Brown – Brendan Cull
Lina Lamont – Flora Dawson
I have never raved so much about as show as when I first saw Singin’ In The Rain a few months ago, so having the opportunity to see it a second time, I was rather excited to say the least! There really is something special about this show, perhaps it’s the effect of someone relishing in the joy of rain on a soggy, grey London evening, or maybe it’s just the sheer enthusiasm of the whole cast on stage. Either way, it works.
I am not biased when it comes to understudies, so when I saw that three of the four main characters, Don Lockwood, Cosmo Brown and Lina Lamont would be played by understudies (just Scarlett Strallen remaining as Kathy), I wasn’t disappointed or worried. Yes, I am a huge fan of the original London ‘Good Morning’ trio of Cooper, Strallen and Crossley, however understudies bring a fresh new take on the role and deserve their time on stage as much as the top-billing cast. Saying that however, I did end up a little dissatisfied with the performance this time. It was obvious to me that the cast were not used to performing together regularly and the whole show suffered just a little as a result. I still thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did the rest of the audience, but I did miss the magic of the Cooper, Strallen, Crossley combo.
Anyone who saw the show for the first time on the same night as me would have barely noticed the slight lack of confidence in the understudy cast. Francis Haugen is an accomplished dancer, possessing style and grace as he glided across the stage as Don Lockwood. His vocals were good but suffered from lack of stamina during and after a dance number. He had charm but lacked the tenderness that Lockwood should have in addition to his supremely confident movie-star side. It struck me that Haugen sometimes appeared like a rabbit in headlights on stage. He certainly has potential as a leading man but I feel he needs much more experience to really convince an audience.
Scarlett Strallen once again shines as the young, talented Kathy Selden. Not letting a new partner on stage throw her, she breezed through the show with the same ease that I have seen in both her and her sister, Summer. Scarlett Strallen has actually improved as Selden since I saw Singin’ In The Rain last, and brings an inner confidence to the role. Her dancing is flawless and her vocals rich and smooth. A pleasure to watch.
Brendan Cull and Flora Dawson were both impressive in their understudy roles. Cull showed his charming, comedic skills as Cosmo Brown, particularly in the his signature song ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’. Like Haugen, he occasionally suffered from lack of stamina but his performance was fun and enjoyable. Dawson took the role of shrill, spiteful Lina Lamont with great gusto and certainly proved her worthiness in the process. Commanding the stage each time she arrived, Dawson had no doubt who the star should be and wasn’t going to let studio boss R.F. Simpson stop her. Robert Powell, perhaps more known for film and TV roles than those on stage, plays Simpson with strong authority. I enjoyed his performance a lot, a seasoned professional in every sense of the word.
Despite some misgivings, I would still recommend Singin’ In The Rain to anyone, no exceptions. The show transports the audience right into 1920s Hollywood with slick choreography, stylish design and intelligent direction. Everybody leaves with a smile on their face and that song on their brain. The whole cast and the creatives should be proud of this show and the success it will bring (I hope) for many more years.
Review by Natasha Wynn
109-113 Shaftesbury Avenue
Friday 12th October 2012