Screenplay and adaptation by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Directed by: Jonathan Church
Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre
Date: Thursday 8th September 2011
I found I was humming some of the music from this show during the day, which is a good sign. I reckon Gene Kelly had put me off this musical – I just don’t like the guy, sorry – but now I’ve seen it on stage, I’ve really taken to it. I was certainly looking forward to another splash fest tonight, and as it turned out, the show had come on so much that I can only reflect my experience by giving it full marks. I’ve added in some corrections to my earlier notes, so here I’ll concentrate on some extra details and any changes I noticed.
Some things that were in the earlier performance, but which I forgot to mention last time include the two young boys who act out Don and Cosmo’s early days, the gorilla and Robin Hood walking across the sound stage just before Make ‘Em Laugh then joining in the song later, and the way that Cosmo gets the idea to use Kathy’s voice instead of Lina’s was from the ‘Yes, yes, yes. No, no, no’ section of The Duelling Cavalier, where the sound had gone out of sync, giving the man Lina’s voice and Lina his. This section came after Good Morning, when the three leads are lying on the ground in front of the bench; they come up with the idea for the musical, sing the song, then realise they have to contend with the problem of Lina’s complete lack of vocal talent.
The technical side of things had also improved, as the water tank didn’t overfill before the first Singin’ In The Rain this time – no seepage – and I reckon there was less water in the basin than before. Adam Cooper focused much more in the dancing tonight which was great, although that didn’t stop him spreading the water far and wide in the process. One minor hiccup – the wind machine in You Were Made For Me didn’t work tonight, so the mist threatened to become a fog, blocking our view. I suspect they turned it off pronto because it soon cleared.
The biggest change overall was that the cast had grown into their performances tremendously. It was much tighter, the storyline was much clearer, and all the singing and dancing was just as fabulous as before. With a post-show discussion to follow, the audience was packed with many of the keenest Chichester Festival Theatre supporters, so we were a very friendly crowd and responded warmly throughout, applauding at the end of many of the scenes. I was particularly glad that we applauded Katherine Kingsley’s performance as Lina several times. It’s such an important part, and she did it magnificently, even better than the first time we saw it, which was only the second preview. Her singing of What’s Wrong With Me was clearer, and still dreadful without being so hard to listen to. The rest of the cast were brilliant too, and I only hope they can keep most of them together for any London run.
I loved every minute of tonight’s performance, and there was more! The post-show was held towards the back of the auditorium this time, as the crew needed to clean up the stage. In fact, they managed all that before we got started, but as we were settled they didn’t try to move us again. The choreographer Andrew Wright, the musical director Robert Scott and assistant director Luke Shepphard were on hand to get things started, and several of the cast joined us as well, once they’d dried off. They talked us through the original intensive creation period, and some of the problems they’d had with the flooring. It had to be able to handle all that water yet be suitable for dancing – a lot to ask – and they still don’t have an ideal solution. The control bits for the radio mikes were wrapped in plastic bags, apparently, and for the title song Don’s hat successfully keeps the mike dry.
We were surprised that Robert Scott hadn’t seen the film – everyone else had – but he does keep the music on his iPod, and listens to it constantly when he’s preparing a show. They’re hoping to transfer to London – no one would be specific about the venue – and there may be a cast recording – hooray! The cast’s stamina was commented on; they’ve got fitter with all the performances they do, but having the show in rep actually makes it more difficult for them, as they have to keep their stamina levels up during the off days. They seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot on stage, and they claimed to be a happy bunch of bunnies, with lots going on backstage to keep them entertained. Even the foyer area saw some action, with the final quick change being an eye-opener for any audience members who left early! On that revealing note, the post-show ended.
© 2011 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me