What-a song and dance in the rain

Singin' in the Rain: Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, Regent Theatre, Ipswich until Saturday April 19Singin' in the Rain ticks all the boxes for a good musical.

Ivan Howlett

Singin' in the Rain: Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, Regent Theatre, Ipswich until Saturday April 19

Singin' in the Rain ticks all the boxes for a good musical. It has a strong showbiz story, comedy, a star meets nice girl thread, and ample opportunities for show-stopping song-and-dance numbers.

On top of that the Ipswich Operatic has the panache and style to give it a buzzing, colourful and energetic treatment.


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Call me old fashioned, but I prefer shows with lots of fine and distinctive songs.

Singin' in the Rain is packed with them. They're by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown and culled from a decade of musicals for the 1952 Gene Kelly film.

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Distinctive is important because, to be truthful, I find a sameness about the music in some more recent musicals, Lloyd Webber's included.

However, not only does the Ipswich Operatic have good material on which to work, it has the confidence as well as the song-and-dance, chorus and comedy skills to carry it off. What's more, the company knows the show well, having put it on eleven years ago. Then, the current director, Simon Bowen, played the Gene Kelly role.

This time it's the excellent Paul Stone who takes the lead, with Jane Bowen as Kathy, the part that saw Debbie Reynolds making her screen debut.

It's a clever tale. Don is a silent film star, having made it from vaudeville, where he has talent, to the most awful bewigged French historical dramas for Monumental Films. Then talkies arrive and it's decided suddenly to turn Don's new film into a musical. The problem is that Don's long time co-star and prize bitch, Lina Lamont (played by Stephanie Brown) has a dreadful grating voice. So the secret plan is to synch Kathy's recorded voice behind Lina. The scheme is uncovered and all sorts of complications threaten. Eventually, of course, it all comes out in the wash.

Among all the great scenes - period Hollywood premieres, comedy/stunt and hoofing numbers involving Don's old partner Cosmo Brown (Stephen Watt), there's one scene that takes the prize.

Inevitably, it's the Singin in the Rain number, which is done with rain coming off the roof, umbrellas, Don getting soaked, puddles in the gutter - all on the Regent stage. Very clever, well choreographed and danced and a fitting climax to both acts of an exciting show.

Ivan Howlett

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