‘Singin’ In The Rain’ was enthralling.
Show tunes buzzed through the air as a captivated audience took their seats in the Halpin Auditorium on the opening night of Spotlight Theatrical Company’s family-favourite musical, ‘Singin’ In The Rain’. The much-beloved Gold Coast theatre company, a mainstay for 65 years in the city, delivered on their promise of hilarity and vibrant staging.
‘Singin’ In The Rain’ centres around two silent-film stars, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, during the transition to ‘talkies’ in the late 1920s. Lina’s high-pitched, grating voice threatens her career, and Monumental Pictures is not willing to let her risk their reputation because of it. Musician and Lockwood’s best friend, Cosmo Brown, and up-and-coming actress, Kathy Seldon, hatch a plot to save their newest picture, ‘The Dueling Cavalier’, turning it into a musical and Seldon into a starlet. Hilarity and classic romantic-comedy chaos ensue, as Lina is exposed for having Seldon dub her vocals in the film and the studio executives scramble to save the picture from commercial disaster. This show has a long history of award-snatching West End and Broadway performances and is, of course, adapted from the beloved movie musical starring Gene Kelly.
Spotlight Theatrical Company’s rendition is a visual feast. From the countless sets, both detailed and immersive, to the costumes, innumerable and vivid. From blue and purple plaid suits, stunning gowns, and hot-pink feathered robes, every corner of golden-age Hollywood fashion was covered and the hard-work of the acclaimed Spotlight Theatre costume department was undeniably evident in this spectacle.
The technical elements of ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ were executed to near-perfection. The lighting design of the show was marvellous. It achieved the illusion of an adoring crowd behind a curtain, delivered beautiful spotlights during more dramatic moments, and included a dynamic glowing moonlight over the rainstorm. Multimedia utilised throughout the show to feature flashbacks and movie clips packed a comedic punch and aided the show’s overall storytelling ability.
Reaching the end of Act I came the moment the audience was waiting for – rain on the Spotlight stage. No easy feat to execute, but the rain became a character unto itself and provided no shortage of comedic and romantic brilliance. The show’s advertisement of a ‘splash zone’ did not disappoint, with patrons in the front row donned in Spotlight Theatre branded rain ponchos.
Direction by Clay and Laura English shows respect and love for golden-age musicals as every well-loved trope and element was accounted for. A commendation to the show’s musical director, Shari Willner, must also be given. In particular, the vocal stylings of the lead performers and the production singer, Micheal Redfern, were transcendent.
‘Singin’ In The Rain’ boasts a powerhouse cast, full of local talent. The ensemble worked with such ease and chemistry with one another and took on each number and character with gusto while the dancers delivered timeless jazz choreography with covetable energy. Jo De Goldi was a standout as Dora Bailey, the charismatic tabloid reporter who tap-danced into the heart of the audience during the standout number of Act II, a tribute to the magic of Broadway. Cosmo Brown, portrayed by the multi-talented Andrew King, was the sublime comic relief in the show. His number ‘Make Em’ Laugh’ was a masterpiece of Charlie Chaplin-esque slapstick comedy.
Another crowd favourite who filled the theatre with a powerful presence was the loveable villainess, Lina Lamont, played by Tiahni Wilton. Her portrayal of the starlet was layered and hilarious, and her solo number ‘What’s Wrong With Me?’ was met with raucous applause. Emma Leese as Kathy Seldon was witty and enchanting, bringing an angelic vocal quality to the role. Tying together this strapping comedic cast is Don Lockwood, played by Clay English, who remarkably, also directed and choreographed the show. He charmed the absolute pants off of the audience and did incredible justice to the show’s iconic title number, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.
A well-deserved standing ovation accompanied the curtain call. It is fantastic to see community theatre alive and kicking in such a victorious way, especially because of how much these institutions have suffered in the past two years.
‘Singin’ In The Rain’ is a triumphant and awe-inspiring spectacle, breathing new life into this classic musical. And rain in a theatre is always a spectacle to behold.
Singin’ In The Rain performs until Saturday, 20 November 2021 for more information visit Spotlight Theatreical Company website.
Photos by Vargo Studio.