Review: Singin’ in the Rain, Palace Theatre, London

Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a very special blogger event at the Palace Theatre in London. When I asked my Twitter followers to recommend theatre shows recently, lots of people either recommended Singin’ in the Rain, or said it was high on their list to go and see next. A quick look at the show’s website confirmed that this was a must see for the dance, costumes and technical effects alone!

Adam Cooper as Don Lockwood.
Photo credit Manuel Harlan.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be offered two tickets in exchange for a blog post. It’s been 60 years since Singin’ in the Rain hit our cinema screens, and what better way to celebrate that than with a trip to see this elaborate new stage production? Not only is it a lavish West End musical production, but they have rain… actual rain on the stage! Every performance uses a massive 14,000 litres of water, recycled from a 10 ton water tank in the orchestra pit. Don’t worry though, the orchestra have been given a dry spot above the stage instead for this one.

My theatre companion for the evening was burlesque bad girl and classic Hollywood musical fan Honey Schnapps, who looked every inch the movie starlet when I met her at the door. We were thrilled to be seated in the stalls, where the chances of getting splashed by the cast were extremely high. Thankfully, we weren’t close enough to the stage to require a plastic poncho, and the water is heated so there was no danger of shivering in our seats.

The impressive set was like an old movie studio back lot and, from the first few minutes, we could see that just as much attention to detail had gone into the costumes as well. As the story is set in 1927 there was plenty of scope for beautiful clothing, but it was impressive to see just how well the cast could move in their costumes too. After all, there is a lot of dancing!

Just before we took our seats for the show, Ms Schnapps informed me that Adam Cooper (who plays the part of Don Lockwood) created the role of The Swan/Stranger with Matthew Bourne for Adventures in Motion Pictures production of Swan Lake in the 1990s. Having seen that production at a time when he was probably still in it, this news got me even more excited for the show we were about to see, and Cooper did not disappoint.

The cast of Singin’ in the Rain at the Palace Theatre.
Photo credit Manuel Harlan.

Along with Daniel Crossley as Cosmo and Scarlett Strallen as Kathy, plus a fantastic all-singing all-dancing cast, Cooper sparkled from start to finish. Not only did every move look effortless, but he also appeared to be having a whole lot of fun on that stage too. Having never wanted to learn tap dancing before, I’m now seriously considering signing up for classes!

If you don’t know the story, Don Lockwood is a silent movie star. His on-screen lover Lina Lamont mistakenly believes they are partners off-screen too and, with the advent of the talkies, this isn’t the only complication Lina brings to Don’s life as… well, she doesn’t exactly have a voice to go with her looks. Katherine Kingsley was wonderful in this tricky comedy role. It must be very difficult to intentionally sing badly in a way that has the audience laughing rather than cringing. Thankfully though, she only had one song! The rest of the cast sang and danced their way through more songs than I thought I’d recognise (as I’ve only seen the movie once), and we laughed and sighed along with them. We also had the good fortune to see the legend that is Robert Powell in the role of studio boss RF Simpson.

Robert Powell as R F Simpson.
Photo by Alastair Muir

Despite all the glitz, glamour and special effects, the truly amazing thing about this show was just how happy it made me feel. The classic scene where Don Lockwood is singing in the rain came at the end of act one, yet the mood was maintained throughout. It was like someone turned the happy up to eleven. Every twirl, every splash, every slapstick moment just seemed to further lift my spirits. Twenty-four hours later and I’m still grinning like a child just thinking about it.

As we rose, slightly damp, from our seats at the end of the night to continue the applause, I knew I’d be telling anyone who’ll listen about this show for some time to come. Not even the old ladies doing a running commentary behind us in the stalls could spoil our mood. The lovely people at Premier PR have Storified the bloggers’ tweets from the night and it looks like I wasn’t the only one who thoroughly enjoyed herself.

I would thoroughly recommend getting tickets to this show. Singin’ in the Rain simply doesn’t understand concepts like ‘mediocre’ or ‘disappointing’ but, instead, it does a good line in ‘breathtaking’. You’ll leave the theatre high on life and, perhaps, ever so slightly tempted to dance your way home.

DISCLOSURE: I was given free tickets to Singin’ in the Rain by Premier communications agency.