SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Directed by John Plews
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Singin’ in the Rain is a Hollywood story, set at a time when the silver screen found it’s voice and left silent movies behind.
Based on one of the world’s best-loved movies it features the glorious songs from the MGM score, including Good Morning, Make ‘em Laugh, Moses Supposes and the classic Singin’ in the Rain
Produced by arrangement with JOSEF WEINBERGER LTD on behalf of MUSIC THEATRE INTERNATIONAL of New York
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN played Upstairs at the Gatehouse
17th December 2014 – 25th January 2015
Training: Susan Taylor Dancing Academy, Banbury/Bird College – First Class BA (Hons) degree in Dance and Theatre Performance.
Theatre credits include: Original London Cast (OLC) of Viva Forever as Leon (Piccadilly Theatre); Gotta Sing Gotta Dance (Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne); OLC of Jersey Boys, as Bob Crewe (Prince Edward Theatre); OLC of Wicked, understudied Fiyero (Apollo Victoria); Jerry Springer the Opera, understudied Tremont/Angel Gabriel (UK tour); Annie Get Your Gun, understudied and played Frank Butler and Buffalo Bill (UK tour); OLC of The Producers, understudied and played Lead Tenor (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane); Macavity/Admetus in Cats, understudied and played Munkustrap and Rum Tum Tugger (UK tour); Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, understudied Rico Castelli; Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street; the original UK touring cast of Chicago.
Film credits include: Disney’s Cinderella (2015), De Lovely, and Roger in new feature film ‘The Callback Queen’.
Training: Millennium Performing Arts/Redroofs Theatre School
Theatre credits include: Candide (The Menier Chocolate Factory); Broadway Ballet Girl / Olga Mara in Singin’ In The Rain (Palace Theatre London); Scheherazade in the World Premiere of Finding Neverland (Leicester Curve); u/s Eileen in Wonderful Town (Royal Exchange and UK tour); Martha & Connie Burrelli in Rat Pack Live in Las Vegas (Wyndams Theatre & International tour); Angel in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Union Theatre); u/s Penny in Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre); Gad’s Wife in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (Adelphi Theatre); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK and international tour); Young Solange in Follies (Landor Theatre); Carousel (Chichester Festival Theatre); Doctor Foster (in association with the RSC at the Menier Chocolate Factory).
Paul started his training at Laine Theatre Arts, and continued training at the Acting Studio, Los Angeles.
Theatre: Max Mencken in the UK premiere of It’s a Bird, It’s Plane, It’s Superman: The Musical; Ensemble & Understudy to Muddles in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Octagon Theatre); Swing in Cinderella (The Tabard Theatre).
Other credits include: Lead Vocalist on P&O Azura.
TV credits include: Queen Mother’s 100 year Celebration (BBC); Keeping Up with the Kardashians Season 2 (E Entertainment).
Training: Mountview Academy of Performing Arts
Credits: Lucia/Claudia in San Domino at the Arcola Theatre
Theatre credits whilst training include: Ilse in Spring Awakening, Alexandra Romanova in Yusupov, The Hawker in The Who’s Tommy and Polly Peachum in The Beggars Opera.
Samuel graduated from the Guildford School of Acting with a BA in Musical Theatre.
Theatre credits include: Captain Hook/Mr Darling in Peter Pan (Italian Tour); Marinelli in Emilia Galotti (Baron’s Court Theatre); Jon in Tick, Tick…Boom! (The Africa Centre, Covent Garden); Man in Songs for a New World (Theatro Technis); and Peter in Letters to Myself (Guildford Fringe Festival).
Film credits include: Gardner in Moments (Genesis Flux & Divided Productions) and Dervish in On Hungry Hill (Pursued by a Bear Productions).
Other credits include: a sold-out run of his solo cabaret Songs From The Shower (London Theatre Workshop); Guys or Dolls (The Rose and Crown); West End Men (The Vaudeville Theatre); and workshops for Tall, Thin and Blonde; Ella and the Dragophant and Dave the Less than Average Fairy.
Nick trained at Mountview.
His favourite parts have included Maxim de Winter in Rebecca, Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger, Milo in Sleuth and Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest.
UK tours include: Dial M for Murder, The 39 Steps, The Titfield Thunderbolt, Strangers on a Train, Dead Funny, Romantic Comedy, Dangerous Corner, and Kind Hearts and Coronets.
International tours include: Stones in His Pockets, Art, Private Lives and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).
Nick also toured the world on-board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth as a member of the Q.E. Acting Company. Roles included Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Manny in The Odd Couple, Barney in The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Eric ‘Rubber Legs’ Devine in A Slice of Saturday Night.
Nick was born in Watford next to the stadium, so has had to endure endless pain and torment as a fervent Hornets fan.
Lindsay graduated from the Arts Educational School in 2014.
Theatre credits whilst in training include: Dance Captain/Ensemble in Evita; Zaneeta Shinn in The Music Man; Princess Ida in Princess Ida; Baby in Dirty Dancing and Helen in Saturday Night.
Other credits include: Olivier Awards 2013 (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Kerry Ellis in Concert (London Palladium), Friday Night Is Music Night (BBC Radio 2), Golda Linska in Korczak (Rose Theatre, Kingston).
Vicky graduated from The London Studio Centre with a BA (Hons) in Theatre Dance in 2013.
Credits whilst in training include: Pure Joy in More Light (director Norma Atallah), Dance Overture at the New Wimbledon Theatre as a soloist in A Tribute to Whitney (choreographer Becky Howel), a dancer in Easy Money (choreographer Robbie O’Reilly) and a featured soloist in All Shook Up (choreographer Ashley Nottingham). Vicky has also performed in West End Live as a backing dancer for the tribute act The Gleeks and featured in Street Dance 2 3D (produced by Alan Niblo) and Cuban Fury (directed by James Griffiths).
After performing in pantomimes Jack and the Beanstalk (Theatre Royal, Windsor), as ensemble; and Robin Hood (Oxford Playhouse), as Dance Captain, directed by Peter Duncan, Vicky is delighted to be spending this Christmas with the cast of Singin’ in the Rain, performing this most loved musical Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
Emily is a graduate of The London School of Musical Theatre where she was awarded The Shakespeare Sonnet Cup and previously gained a Diploma from The Urdang Academy.Professional Credits include: Dance Captain in Damn Yankees (The Landor Theatre); Mismatched (The Old Red Lion); Skunk Anansie music video with Cult Loves You Productions.
Credits whilst training include: Applause (Bridewell Theatre); Merrily We Roll Along (The Urdang Academy); The Wrong House (LSMT); and workshops of Absent Friends, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bizet’s Carmen, Closest to the Moon and Wicked.
Emily is thrilled to be a part of this Christmas production of Singin’ In The Rain.
Martin is originally from Accrington in Lancashire, but now resides in London since Graduating from The Guildford School Acting (GSA) in 2011, in Musical Theatre. Previously Martin also trained at Cumbria Institute of the Arts in Carlisle for three years, Graduating in 2010 with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Musical Theatre.
For Ovation: Kiss Me Kate (Upstairs at the Gatehouse).
Other credits include:Jon in tick, tick…BOOM! (Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea); Bruce in KATHY KIRBY:ICON (Camden Fringe Festival); Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (The Brookside Theatre, Romford); Harry – Shot at Dawn, (Workshop musical / Camden). The Bandleader and Ensemble – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Electric Theatre, Guildford) – Directed by Tim Flavin.
Will trained at the Guildford School of Acting.Theatre credits include: The Wizard of Oz (Bristol Old Vic), Wind in the Willows (Bristol Old Vic), Hugh Dripp in The Bakewell Bake Off (Landor Theatre and Waterloo East) and Bingo Little in By Jeeves (Trinity Theatre). Cast recordings: The Bakewell Bake Off Original Cast Recording.
Credits whilst training include: Billy Bigelow in Carousel; Chris Keller in All My Sons; Chad Hogan in Electric Chapel: The Lady Gaga Musical and Georg Nowack in She Loves Me. Whilst training he wrote ‘The Bakewell Bake Off’ which has been published by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Association.
Will is delighted to have landed a role in this production as it is one of his all-time favourite musicals.
Training: Guildford School of Acting, BA (Hons) Musical Theatre (1st Class).Theatre: Most recently Young Boy/Fisherman in Pacific Overtures at The Union.
Credits whilst training: Tom in Water Babies; Aaron Schultz/Ensemble in Legally Blonde; Freddie Vaughn/Swing in Little Women; Soloist in Songs for a New World; Charles J. Guiteau in Assassins; Ensemble/Understudy Angel in RENT; Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew; GSA Singers & GSA Dancers 2013-2014.
Workshops: Edmund in The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe; Marcus in Street Dreams.
Television: Pride and Prejudice: Having A Ball (BBC), The One Show (BBC).
Matt is very excited to be performing Upstairs at the Gatehouse in this exciting production of Singin’ In The Rain.
Musical Director / Keys 1 – Matt Ramplin
Assistant MD/Keys 2 – David Merriman
Reeds – Ruth Whybrow
Trumpet – Joe Carter
Bass – Doug Grannell
Drums – Tristan Butler
John trained at LAMDA and spent several years in Rep including a long stay at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. He has directed and produced numerous shows including many for cruise lines Princess, Cunard and P&O. At Upstairs at the Gatehouse John has directed The Blonde Bombshells of 1943; Kiss Me Kate; Avenue Q; Crazy for You; Iceberg – Right Ahead!; Woody Allen’s Play It Again Sam; A Slice of Saturday Night; Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story; High Society; Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Lee Hall’s Cooking With Elvis; Victoria Wood’s Talent; It’s Only Make Believe; Forever Plaid (also Edinburgh and National Tour); The Wiz; Hot Mikado; Little Shop of Horrors; Return to the Forbidden Planet and From a Jack to a King. John wrote the stage adaptation of The Young Ones a musical based on the iconic 1961 film, which played over Christmas 2007 to critical acclaim. John, along with Katie, is responsible for the day to day running of Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
Chris trained at London Studio Centre and graduated after performing with both Images Of Dance Ballet company and the Jazz Dance Company.
Choreographer credits:The Apple Tree (Ye Olde Rose & Crown) – Best Musical Offie nomination; A Catered Affair (UK premiere – London Theatre Workshop), Just Another Love Story (London Theatre Workshop & Brighton Fringe Festival) – Brighton Fringe Artistic Excellence Award; Little Me (Ye Olde Rose & Crown); Marty Macdonald’s Farm (National Tour & Leicester Square Theatre); Assassins (Pleasance Theatre) and Gossamer (Workshop).
Assistant Choreographer Credits:Series 3 & 4 of ZINGZILLAS & GIGGLEBIZ (CBeebies), Beauty & The Beast (Hexagon Theatre, Reading)
TV Credits:Chris originated the role of Tony Tap in kids hit TV show GIGGLEBIZ for CBeebies.
Chris also has many theatrical performance credits including West End Heroes at the Dominion Theatre with the Matt Flint Company. He is also resident choreographer for London Theatre Workshop in Fulham.
Matt trained in music performance and composition at Cardiff University.He has recently finished work as one half of the music department for the Twickenham Theatre’s sold-out run of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, a production that has just been nominated in the Best Revival and Best Off West-End Show categories at 2015’s WOS Awards.
Other credits include: West-End: Rags (Lyric Theatre) Off West-End: Sweeney Todd (Twickenham Theatre, Ass. MD); See Rock City & Other Destinations UK Premiere (Union Theatre); [Title of Show] UK Premiere (Edinburgh); When Midnight Strikes (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); Meet Me in St Louis (Landor); Privates on Parade (Greenwich Theatre); Claus (Landor)
Touring/Regional & Drama Schools: Alfie (LCM); The Jewish Legacy (UK Tour); Anything Goes (Chichester University); John & Jen (Tobacco Factory); Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Porthcawl Grand); Christmas Crooners: A Rat Pack Christmas (UK & Ireland Tour); Privates on Parade (UK Tour)
Workshops & Development: The Woman in White (RUG); Anthony Newley: The Fool Who Dared to Dream (Palace); Bumblescratch: A New Musical (Network Theatre); Claus: A New Musical (RCSSD)
In addition to his work as a musical director, Matt has taught at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Arts Ed, LCM and the London Theatre School and regularly works as an arranger and orchestrator for Royal Caribbean, P&O and Thompson cruise lines.
Sarah studied Performance Costume at Edinburgh College of Art (BA Hons, First Class) and has an MA in Theatre Design from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.Designer credits: Spanners (Battersea Arts Centre); Kiss and Tell (Little Fish Theatre Co.); Romeo and Juliet (The Pleasance, Islington); Re:Silence (Little Fish Theatre Co, Tour); Close to You (Southwark Playhouse); Harlequin Goes to the Moon (Rude Mechanical Theatre Co, Tour)
Set Designer credits: Dancing at Lughnasa (The Tobacco Factory, Bristol)
Costume Designer credits: Sweeney Todd (LAMDA); Summerfolk (The Pleasance Islington); Earthquakes in London (The Pleasance Islington); Belvedere (Brighton Fringe) Macbeth (The Redgrave Theatre, Bristol); Gentle Harries Farm (The Rude Mechanical Theatre Co.) Associate Designer: Bondagers (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh); The Ring Cycle Plays (The Scoop); The Malcontent (Shakespeare’s Globe).
Assistant Designer credits: Selfie (NYT, The Ambassadors Theatre); Private Peaceful (NYT, The Ambassadors Theatre); Pastoral (The Soho Theatre); Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (Sadler’s Wells); The Mouse and His Child (RSC); Nation (National Theatre).
Forthcoming productions include: The Archivists (Battersea Arts Centre) and The Recruiting Officer (Drama Centre)
For Ovation: The Blonde Bombshells of 1943 and Avenue Q (Upstairs at the Gatehouse)
Long Story Short (Charing Cross Theatre); Out Of The River (Chelsea Theatre); Ushers (Charing Cross Theatre); The Last 5 Years (King Arms Salford); Spring & Port Wine (King Arms Salford); I Could’ve Been Better (Pleasance Edinburgh); Romeo & Juliet (Theatre Royal Northampton); Twelfth Night (Theatre Royal Northampton); Romeo & Juliet (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); The Wiz(Hampton Hill Playhouse); The Bullet & The Bass Trombone (Bristol Old Vic Studio); I Could’ve Been Better (Bristol Old Vic Studio); Actéon (Dartington Summer School); Dickens Of A Life (New Wimbledon Theatre); Tin (Lowry Studio/Birmingham Mac); Only Us (Bristol Old Vic Studio); Broken News (New Wimbledon Studio); Titus Andronicus (Royal & Derngate); How To Disappear Completely (Royal & Derngate); Green Forms (Tabard Theatre); Box of Delights: BCMG (CBSO Centre); Love Thy Neighbour (Cockpit Theatre); Country Life (Old Red Lion/RADA GBS), Dido and Aeneas (The Barn Theatre); Only (Bristol Old Vic Studio); A Big Day for the Goldberg’s (New End Theatre); The Wall (New End Theatre); After The Accident (Soho Theatre); Death of a Nightingale (New End Theatre); 74 Georgia Avenue (New End Theatre); Tipping Point (Bristol Hamilton House/ New Wimbledon Studio); Bluebird (Cockpit Theatre); This Is How It Goes (Kings Head Theatre); Siren (Etcetera Theatre); Leo You Nutter (Wimbledon College of Art); Tape (Northern Outlet Theatre Company).
As an associate lighting designer: Jacques Brel (Charing Cross Theatre – LD Mike Robertson); Lost Boys (Charing Cross Theatre – LD Mike Robertson); L’Heure Espagonle & L’Enfant et Les
Sortileges (Royal College of Music – LD WayneDowdeswell).
As an assistant lighting designer: In The Next Room (Ustinov Studio Bath – LD Emma Chapman) Never Forget (UK Tour 2009 – LD James Whiteside).
Relights: The Perfect Murder (UK Tour – LD Mark Howett) Fallen Angels (Bill Kenwright’s UK Tour – LD Doug Kuhrt), Private Peaceful (UK Tour 2011 – LD Wayne Dowdeswell).
His website is: aaronjdootson.co.uk
For Ovation: The Blonde Bombshells of 1943, Avenue Q and Crazy For You (Upstairs at the Gatehouse).Jon was responsible for the initial installation of the sound system at Upstairs at the Gatehouse almost sixteen years ago. He has worked in the professional sound industry for over thirty years and has installed systems in the Barbican Theatre, Wolverhampton Grand, Durham Gala and the new G Live in Guildford. Jon currently works as a sound and acoustic consultant.
Sarah trained in Theatre Design at Central School of Speech and Drama specialising in Costume Design and has worked as a Costume Designer/Supervisor for 15 years in both Theatre and film.Most recent Credits include:
The Importance of Being Earnest set in 1950 (The Brockley Jack Theatre); Costume Supervisor for the feature film Katherine of Alexandria with KOA Films .
Other credits :
Costume Design:Cause Celebre – 1930’s Costume Design (The Milfield Theatre, Edmonton);Dancing at Lughnansa – Costume Design (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); Innocence Redeemed by the Romanska Folk Ballet Company for Sadlers Wells Dance Theatre Season; Antigony (Embassy Theatre)
Wardrobe Assistant: The All Together – feature film – starring Danny Dyer, Martin Freeman –Directed by Gavin Claxtin; Cinderella Christmas panto (The Hackney Empire);
Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (Fishmonger Films)
Susannah trained at Performers College.
Theatre Credits include: Ensemble in Spirit of Broadway (Holland); Ensemble in Sweet Charity (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); Ensemble in Cinderella (Bristol Hippodrome; Ensemble in Red Hot & Jazz (Questors Theatre, London); Dance Captain in Seaside Special (Pavilion Theatre Cromer); Soloist/Ensemble in Rock & Roll Legends and Destination Costa (Costa Cruise Lines).TV and Film Credits include: Commercials for John Lewis, Subway, Freixenet, MTG Viasat and Payday UK. Music Videos for Parade and Sergej Cetkovic.
David is a London-based musical-director, répétiteur and composer. Credits include: as MD, Blues In The Night (Chelsea Theatre); Confessions Of A Rabbi’s Daughter (Upstairs At The Gatehouse); Ernest – The Show (Etcetera Theatre); The Copla (RCSSD); The Last Five Years (Battersea Arts Centre); and as composer, Veolia Songs (Platform 7); The Beggars’ Opera (RCSSD); Strange Exiles (Cockpit Theatre [Workshop]). David also works as a visiting lecturer and accompanist at The Royal Central School Of Speech And Drama.
Les has worked in production for over forty years. He has produced theatre shows as diverse as Shakespeare and Agatha Christie with Ibsen and Brecht in between. He has also lit and rigged many a rock ‘n roll show, variety and cabaret presentation and, for several seasons, The York Mystery Plays. He lit Ovation’s London productions of Forever Plaid; From a Jack to a King and A Slice of Saturday Night. More recently he has been concentrating on trade shows and product launches not only in Britain but also in Hong Kong and the Far East.
Faye recently graduated from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts with a BA Hons in Production Arts.Earlier this year Faye was Company Stage Manager for Sweeney Todd (Twickenham Theatre) which has been nominated for Best Off-West End Production and Best Musical Revival at the WhatsOnStage Awards 2015.
Credits whilst training: Stage Manager: Art of War (Shoreditch Town Hall).
Deputy Stage Manager: A Winter’s Tale (Bernie Grant’s Arts Centre); ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore and As You Like It (Suffolk New College & the University D’Artois).
Assistant Stage Manager: House of Blue Leaves (Unicorn Theatre); Spring Awakening (Bernie Grant’s Art Centre); We Happy Few (Riverside Studios); Very Pleasant Sensations/White Rose (Cockpit Theatre).
For Ovation: The Blonde Bombshells of 1943. Ed is delighted to be returning to Upstairs at the Gatehouse for Singin’ in the Rain.
For Ovation: The Blonde Bombshells of 1943 (Upstairs at the Gatehouse)
Having performed with Ovation some years ago, Eleanor is pleased to assist this production as voice coach. Film dialogue coach credits include The Call Up, The Anomaly, Take Down, The Riot Club, Cinderella, The Book Thief, Maleficent, and Les Miserables all with Vox Barbarae. Eleanor has also been dialect coach on several other films in ADR and works as a freelance voice and dialect coach with individual actors and comedians.
For Ovation: The Blonde Bombshells of 1943 (Upstairs at the Gatehouse)Sally obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications, Sound and Image at the University of Madrid graduating in 2012. She recently worked as a telecommunication operator at Mediaset España – one of the most important broadcasting companies in Spain.
Singin’ in the Rain continues at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London until 25 January.
Although everybody remembers Gene Kelly’s magical dancing-in-rain, splashing-in-puddles, getting-soaked routine from the timeless 1952 Hollywood movie, it was London that eventually translated Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s screenplay into a stage musical when Tommy Steele directed and starred in it at the Palladium in the 1980s.
It ran for well over two years then as a vehicle for one-time pop idol Steele to demonstrate his triple-threat versatility and there have been several West End revivals since, the latest coming with the Chichester Festival Theatre version that lasted until mid-2013.
And here it is again as the Gatehouse’s Christmas show, sending everybody out into a cold December night with a warm glow and feeling very much more capable of dealing with the rigorous week’s festivities ahead than they did a couple of hours earlier.
And although the upper deck of the Gatehouse pub could not hope to replicate the sheer volume of water expended on the film or indeed at the Palladium (where such was the noise of the rain effect and the fear of it causing short-circuiting microphones that Steele had to mime the title song to a tape recording), director John Plews and water expert Alasdair Elliot’s pared-down version does the job perfectly well.
And while it is an incredibly silly story, it does highlight what the end of the silent-movie era in the 1920s meant to actors with voices like corncrakes and accents like New Jersey fishwives. Unless they mastered the ‘new cinema’ they were toast.
Lina, played with a wonderful disregard for the English language by Thea Jo Wolfe, is based on silent star Norma Talmadge, whose career predictably nosedived once she had to open her mouth for anything other than a kiss.
Simon Adkins is all Hollywood hunk as the Gene Kelly lead Don Lockwood, who manages to adapt to the new screen techniques. He tap-dances up a storm, as does his love interest Frankie Jenna as the posher, stage-trained Kathy Selden, who can talk the talk unlike poor Lina and is destined to take over as Monumental Studios’ new leading lady.
Jenna’s dancing lit up the Menier stage in a small role in Candide at this time last year and here she confirms in a much bigger part that she deserves to be better known than she is.
This is a show that involves custard-pie slapstick and a fair bit of comedy business that could go violently wrong unless painstakingly rehearsed, and the cast’s slick timing, not least the engaging Paul Harwood as Don’s best friend Cosmo in the comedy routines ‘Make ’Em Laugh’, ‘Moses Supposes’ and ‘Good Morning’, is a joy to witness.
In truth, and it is not at all the director’s fault, Singin’ in the Rain is not the best-balanced show ever written because the best songs and most of the humour are contained in Act I and it climaxes too soon.
Anything coming after the big umbrella-and-tap showstopper – Adkins takes his drenching with style – that brings the first half to such a wonderfully wet climax is always likely to be a letdown.
That is how it works out and even though the director has cunningly switched ‘Beautiful Girls’ to beef up the Act II action, the best numbers (music: Nacio Herb Brown; lyrics: Arthur Freed), have gone by then, apart from Jenna’s ballad ‘Would You?’ and repeats of ‘You Are My Lucky Star’ and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.
Samuel Haughton, Nick Barclay, Emily Wigley, Lindsay Atherton and Vicky Longland are fine in smaller roles, the choreography by Chris Whittaker makes thrilling use of the unusual space, and the seven-strong band under MD Matt Ramplin is right in step with some tricksy material.
Special mention for the movie inserts in which we see the vehicles for silent stars Don and Lina as they try to make the transition to the talkies. They are fiendishly clever and extremely funny and it’s a show into which a lot of thought and hard slogging hours have been put.
A word of warning though: you are probably better off in the third row than the first when the taps are turned on!
Ovation has done it again. You no longer have to go to the West End for a first rate musical.
Small theatres such as the Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark Playhouse, the Union and Highgate’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse are among the many venues where you can now discover exciting music theatre.
House company Ovation at this north London theatre has established an excellent track record with shows from Into the Woods to High Society, Buddy to The Wiz. Their seasonal treat this Christmas is the Hollywood romance that originally starred Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, which is set when talkies were just beginning.
Simon Adkins is the silent movie star Don Lockwood, Thea Jo Wolfe his vocally-challenged blonde bitch co-star Lina Lamont and Frankie Jenna is Kathy Selden, the wannabe actress for whom he falls and whose voice saves Monumental Pictures’ first talkie musical from disaster, and Paul Harwood his former vaudeville buddy Cosmo.
It’s a strong lead team to sing, tap and act their way through Comden and Green’s bright comedy matched by a company without a weak link.
Ingenious staging by director John Plews and his designer Sarah June Mills in traverse makes it a very close-up, intimate performance and keeps it fast-moving from the moment that Plews himself unrolls a red carpet for the show’s film première opening.
It’s a production that comes complete with real rain and captures those key moments from the movie in Chris Whittaker’s demanding new choreography which quotes some of the original steps. These dancers present it with energy and a precision that is absolutely vital in such proximity and that all adds to the excitement.
Adkins’s delightful, twinkle-toed Lockwood is a romantic hero who becomes more likeable every minute, Jenna’s marcel-waved Kathy has an apple-cheeked, open innocence without any mawkish sentimentality and Harwood’s Cosmo is brilliantly funny, his “Make ‘Em Laugh” a comic triumph.
Wolfe’s makes pin-brain Lina so awful you almost feel sorry for her until she turns into a control freak; it is entirely in character that even her camiknickers are covered in glittering rhinestones (and that’s also an indication of how well-dressed this show is).
With Samuel Haughton as movie mogul Dexter, Nick Barclay as film director Simpson and Emily Wigley as gossip writer Dora and a supporting cast that create clear characterisations, this really is a treat.
It doesn’t matter that you probably know what’s coming, it is still inordinately funny in its situations with some super slapstick, top-rate tapping and some honeysweet Hollywood romance.
There is a delightful air of ambition that pervades each Christmas musical at the Gatehouse and this year is no exception. In offering Singin’ In The Rain to the good people of Highgate, director John Plews aims high indeed. The songs are classic, the book has the potentially lethal cocktail of gorgeous romance mixed with schmaltzy simplicity and of course there’s “that” iconic scene.
Plews is a visionary creative and it is to his credit that his productions blend recently trained performers with seasoned West End and commercial talent. The story needs little introduction. Set in Hollywood, Monumental Pictures is contemplating the end of silent movies as glamorous starlet Lina Lamont realises that her voice is not as good as her looks. Meanwhile, dashing co star Don Lockwood has stumbled upon the demure and angelically voiced Kathy Selden. Love blossoms and jealousies burn as the rain-sodden tale unfolds.
The principal roles are all cast delightfully. Frankie Jenna’s Kathy is a beautifully pitched performance of vocal perfection whilst Paul Harwood’s Cosmo (Lockwood’s best friend) offers up some great dance routines, with especially beautiful work in Moses Supposes and Make ‘Em Laugh. This show’s moments of breathtaking excellence however come from the carefully crafted performances that Plews coaxes from Simon Adkins’ Lockwood and Thea Jo Wolfe’s Lamont.
Adkins’ West End pedigree is manifest in his voice, his presence and his dance. He consistently convinces as the era’s dashing movie-star, bringing a gravitas of quality to the performance that drives the entire show. Wolfe, a relative newcomer to professional theatre is just deliciously contemptible as the story’s villain. Her dumb blonde vocal squawk is painfully hilarious and her mastery of Lamont’s charisma, envy and ultimate fragility belies an acting talent of some considerable depth. Elsewhere, Nick Barclay is the believable Monumental boss R.F. Simpson and Emily Wigley sets the scene nicely as a Movietone news reporter.
The Gatehouse show offers a delicious flourish with its screenings of grainy black and white movie footage that the story demands. Seasoned director Monica Swelp racks up another triumph with her interpretations of The Royal Rascal and The Duelling Cavalier.
Chris Whittaker’s choreography cleverly exploits the compact traverse performing space, with tap routines that make lavish use of the dozen performers and yes, for an off West End production there’s even a rain drenched title number that includes the baton-twirling cop on his beat. Up in the gallery Matt Ramplin’s six piece band knock out the favourites with a pleasing familiarity.
Singin’ In The Rain makes for perfect festive fayre. A classic tale, beautifully told that brings a splash of Broadway rhythm to North London. It put a smile on my face!
Stage productions of this classic 1951 MGM musical seem to come round almost as regularly as rainy summers, yet all of them must have to face up to the same conundrum – how can you top something when a definitive version is already out there and nearly everyone has seen it? The usual approach is to stage it at a big theatre as a song and dance spectacular, featuring a torrential downpour for the big number. Director John Plews goes in the opposite direction in this 100 or so seat pub theatre, using a company of just 12 and a six-piece orchestra.
The setting is Hollywood in 1927 at the dawn of the talkies. Silent movie star Don Lockwood is happy to make the transition, but his squeaky-voiced on-screen partner Lina Lamont is completely unsuited, leaving the door open for rising starlet Kathy Selden, with whom Don quickly becomes smitten.
A big problem for any production of this show must be the clunky first half hour which has little music and only serves to establish the plot. This problem is made more difficult for Plews because of the theatre’s configuration – an oblong stage with the audience seated on either side. This results in the characters often seeming remote from each other, while awkward scene changes interrupt the show’s rhythm and flow. However, once the dance routines get going, the configuration works in the production’s favour, enhancing the excitement generated when dancers and audience are within touching distance.
The romance between Don (Simon Adkins) and Kathy (Frankie Jenna) is a tepid affair, with familiar but rather trite songs injecting little life into proceedings. The weight of the comedy falls onto the shoulders of Thea Jo Wolfe, delightfully coarse as Lina, and Paul Harwood as Don’s breezy sidekick Cosmo. Midway through the first half, it is Harwood who kick starts the show with his pratfalling rendition of Make ‘Em Laugh and, when he and Adkins put on their tap shoes for Moses Supposes, the audience is at last getting what it has come to see.
Adkins closes the first half performing the iconic title song sequence, pulling it off with considerable panache. He, Jenna and Harwood excel, singing and dancing their way through Good Morning and the other highlight of the second half is a glorious company tap dance routine to Broadway Melody in which Chris Whittaker’s imaginative choreography makes full use of the restricted space.
To be honest, the screenplay/book for Singin’ in the Rain was never that hot anyway and, if Plews’ production works best with song and, even more, dance, he has probably got his priorities right. A colourful array of umbrellas closes the show as the company reprises the title song, ensuring that the tune which everyone came in humming is also the one ringing in the ears on leaving. A good fun evening.
Singing’ and Dancing on the Hill; the sun shines whatever the weather
It really does not get much better than John Plews’ staging of this all singing, all dancing musical about the days when Talkies came to Hollywood and live was never the same again.
The Gatehouse has a good track record in staging musicals, but opting for this particular show was undeniably ambitious. Stage versions of film musicals are risky ventures. They are totally different animals for a start. The film, arguably the greatest of all the Hollywood musicals, is perfection, and that perfection is there for all to see on DVD. A great stage show is but a memory, a great performance lives on only in what is written about.
But we can see Kelly, Reynolds, O’ Connor, Hagen and the rest any time we want at the click of a button. Comparisons can be odious. Plews, however, has paid homage to the film but done his own thing. He is blessed with a first rate cast, splendid choreography by Chris Whittaker, elegant costumes and some cleverly shot film of the movies silent and talking.
He has opted for a traverse staging, which may increase the number of seats for sale but creates some staging problems. It can cause difficulties for the actors in deciding just who they are directing their lines to and, in the case of comedy routines, who is going to get the punch line. It also creates the odd tricky sightline. But no matter if some things do not quite hit home as they do on the screen. This is one of the best productions in a long line of first rate Gatehouse musicals.
Simon Adkins as Don Lockhart makes a dashing leading man, has a good voice, can tap dance with great style, and rises effortlessly to the challenge of the title song – and he does dance in the rain. Plews has solved that little problem brilliantly. Frankie Jenna is as pretty as a picture as Kathy Seldon, the girl he falls for, sings sweetly and her high kicks are breathtaking. Thea Jo Wolfe , suitably gorgeous as the silent star Lina Lamont, mangles her vowels to perfection and Paul Harwood as Cosmo, Don’s sidekick, does the wisecracking with style. The show starts a little slowly, but comes to life when he and Don do the “Moses Supposes his toeses” routine with a suitably bewildered voice coach crisply played by Matt Jolly.
The Gotta Dance ballet from the film is impossible to do, and instead we get the terrifically well drilled ensemble and Adkins doing a frenetic tap routine. You will leave walking on air.
A Brolly Good Show
THIS show could get five stars for its imaginative plumbing alone, although to say any more about how a rain shower soaks the stage here would be a spoiler. For there is magic and surprise to find in this must-see adaptation of the old favourite, Singin’ In The Rain, at every turn.
You wouldn’t expect anything less now from John and Katie Plews, who run the theatre above the pub in Highgate Village. They have made a habit out of stellar musicals come Christmas.
Here they offer another re-telling of how Don Lockwood, the Gene Kelly character in the classic film, consciously uncouples himself from his silver screen partner Lina Lamont, to fall in love instead with a struggling stage actress, who makes ends meet by jumping out of cakes at parties – but, unlike Lina, can sing like a nightingale.
Seriously, you are unlikely to have seen a better leading couple in a fringe theatre production all year.
Simon Adkins as Don bosses the stage, towering above them all at great height, nailing dances that make you both gasp and melt.
And you’d have to have a frozen heart, not to fall in love with Frankie Jenna as Kathy.
The story may wrap up with a hurtle, but it doesn’t matter because of those athletic, mesmerising dance routines.
You just don’t want it to end.
It was with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation that we approached Highgate to see ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, the latest production at Upstairs at the Gatehouse. We couldn’t wait to see how they would manage a musical this big in a venue this small – could they pull it off? And when we got into the auditorium
and saw that the seating layout was in the traverse configuration, we wondered how they could possibly overcome the twin obstacles of a terrible seating arrangement and an iconic and much-loved movie to live up to. Yes they can, and they do!
The plot might be from the fifties, but it feels very up to date, with themes that are if anything more relevant than ever – the insecurity of success in show business, the cult of celebrity and the apparent conflict between ‘art’ and ‘entertainment’. Director John Plews has delivered quite a coup here – by focusing on what mattered in the film – love, relationships (good and bad) and the joys (and frustrations) of creativity, we really don’t need big production numbers. With a talented cast and perfectly pitched performances, the whole production captures the tone of the film, and brings an extra intimacy which has its own rewards. We’d even go so far as to say that this is the best use of a traverse layout we have seen. Instead of being a hindrance, the small space brings a spontaneity to the dance sequences and freshness to the choreography of such famous numbers as ‘Singin’ in the rain’, ‘Good Mornin’ and ‘Moses Supposes’, re-capturing the warmth and simplicity of the original. Add to that the film clips and out-takes charting the rocky progress of ‘The dueling Cavalier’ to ‘The Dancing Cavalier’, courtesy of some skilful overdubbing, and the hilarity is complete.
The cast were all excellent, with strong leads well supported by the small but versatile chorus. ‘Tough Act to follow’ doesn’t quite cover it when describing Simon Adkins’ task in taking on Don Lockwood, a character made so famous by Gene Kelly, especially given the iconic title sequence. Adkins has a likeable charm and a warm singing voice which more than does justice to the music, and when it came to that song (and yes, there was real precipitation), he didn’t attempt to replicate the original step for step, but he did make it his own, conveying the sheer joy behind the song, and had us all rooting for him. Paul Harwood as sidekick, musical genius and all-round fixer Cosmo Brown brings high energy and a truly child-like joy in sheer silliness, coupled with a touching loyalty to Don which seems to involve single-handedly saving his career and sorting out his love-life. Kathy Seldon is by contrast the sane character in an insane world, and Frankie Jenna brings an unpretentious and feisty dignity, whether climbing out of a cake or delivering a custard pie in the face, not to mention a beautiful singing voice, whether delivering romantic gems such as ‘You are my lucky star’ or the more lighthearted joyfulness of ‘Good mornin”. Thea Jo Wolfe as Lina Lamont has the unenviable task of portraying an actress with a voice so terrible it could bring down a studio, and she rises to the challenge with vocal chords set to stun. More importantly, she has impeccable comic timing and pace – her elocution lessons are a joy to behold, not to mention her inability to locate a microphone while filming. Although she is technically the villain of the piece, she is also a victim of the star system, and Wolfe manages to elicit sympathy along with the ridicule. Matt Jolly stands out from the chorus and has some nice cameos including the elocution teacher, the policeman, as well as leading the delightful ‘beautiful girl’ interlude. Lindsay Atherton also delivers an impressive dance sequence in ‘the broadway ballet’.
Which just goes to show that sometimes you can’t beat a live performance for that authentic joy and excitement. No overdubbing here, just a highly talented cast of singers, dancers and actors in a tiny space with an excellent director. Long may they rain!
Singin’ in the Rain,
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
I’ve a smile on my face”
As unlikely as it may seem, you could easily make the case that some of the best musical theatre happening in London right now is taking place above a pub in Highgate. John and Katie Plews’ Ovation Productions have a sterling record in small-scale smash-hit musicals at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre and their festive shows are usually the pick of the bunch. This winter sees them take on the perennial classic Singin’ in the Rain and naturally, it is a gloriously resounding success. And yes, of course there is rain – you gotta go to see how they do it though.
The key to the Plews’ triumph lies in the uncanny ability to both distil and reimagine Broadway classics perfectly for this 120-or-so seat space and often in traverse. That means choreography (from Chris Whittaker) so audacious that audiences applaud mid-song, that means design (by Sarah June Mills) that hits all the key notes – a lamppost to lean on, steps to hop up and down on, seats to tip back – without cluttering the stage, that means musical direction (from Matt Ramplin, leading a band of six) unafraid to just exude Broadway pizzazz as it delivers the superbly evergreen score.
And marshalled together under John Plews’ direction, it all works together just decadently well. Monica Swelp’s silent film clips nail the hilariously histrionic tone that is falling out of fashion in Hollywood as epitomised by Thea Jo Wolfe’s uproariously squeaky Lina, Frankie Jenna (how lovely to see rise through the ranks like this to get a starring role) perfectly captures the natural charm that is rising to take its place, and the thoroughly charming and impossibly handsome and amazing dancer – God, I hate him! – Simon Adkins bridges these two worlds with real grace and dynamism.
The whole company shine brightly through the rain though, wielding their multi-coloured umbrellas and fetching raincoats – special mentions for Paul Harwood’s cheeky Cosmo taps with wonderfully watchable ease and Lindsay Atherton glistens in a starring moment in the Broadway Ballet. The cumulative effect is just heart-gladdeningly wonderful and a real testament to the achievements of this fringe theatre. If it weren’t sold out, I’d be back again in a flash: as it is, you can click here for details of how to get added to the waiting list, you won’t regret it.
Booking until 25th January, sold out but well worth queuing for returns.
I caught Chichester’s recent production of Singin’ in the Rain several times so was intrigued to see how such a big glamorous musical would workin such a small theatre. John Plews’ production works a treat. The small cast have to work twice as hard. They burst with energy and carry the piece from beginning to end.
From the outside it seems Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are the Posh and Becks of silent movies, but from the inside things couldn’t be more different as Don falls for the charms of aspiring stage actress Kathy Selden.
A gifted triple threat, West End actor Simon Adkins leads the cast as Don Lockwood. Adkins is a mesmerising dancer and his vocals are strong. He shines opposite Frankie Jenna as Kathy Selden and Paul Harwood as Cosmo Brown, both of whom settle into their roles as the piece progresses. The highlight of the evening is the trio’s performance of ‘Good Morning’ which brings the house down.
The real star of the show is Thea Jo Wolfe who is absolutely hysterical as Lina Lamont. Jo Wolfe’s comic timing is spot on and she had me in stitches. Chris Whittaker’s choreography works well in the limiting space whilst the orchestra sound divine under the direction of Matt Ramplin.
Plews presents an old classic in a new way. Singin’ in the Rain always provides a glorious night at the theatre, and this production is certainly no exception.