Singin' In The Rain

I was absolutely delighted to be invited along to Kilworth House Theatre in the beautiful setting of leafy Leicestershire to see their summer production, Singin’ In The Rain, a show that needs no real introduction, as its been around since the 1952 film graced the big screen starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.  Firstly, a visit to Kilworth House Theatre really must be on your list this summer. With its beautiful surroundings, extremely friendly staff and comfortable outdoor theatre, this venue has made its way onto my favourite list without a doubt!

As the orchestra, ably conducted by Michael Bradley, commenced the overture, the scene was set for this classic musical which has seen many incarnations over the years.  The outdoor setting for this particular production added something a little extra and provided the packed auditorium with an afternoon of sheer delight.

It might be safe to say that we all know the story of Singin’ In The Rain, but by way of a short synopsis, we follow Don Lockwood (Jack Wilcox), a popular silent film star, and his on-screen romantic partner Lina Lamont (Jess Buckby). While Don's career adapts smoothly to the new technology, Lina's shrill voice poses a problem for her transition to sound films. Don meets Kathy Selden (Lucie-Mae Sumner) an aspiring actress with a beautiful voice, and they fall in love. To save the studio's first sound film, they decide to dub Lina's voice with Kathy's. Chaos and comedy ensue as they navigate the challenges of this new era in filmmaking, culminating in a triumphant and joyous ending where talent and authenticity prevail.

The lead cast for this production oozes talent.  Jack Wilcox wows with his incredible, and showstopping dancing ability, aswell as providing some beautifully melodic moments with his renditions of such classics as ‘You Stepped Out of a Dream’ and bringing an air of humour with ‘Moses Supposes’.  Don’s best friend Cosmo Brown is played wonderfully by Alastair Crosswell.  As a duo, they excel on stage and have a great connection.  Crosswell was very much able to ‘make us laugh’ during his solo number, which contained some very energetic choreography (Lee Proud).  Playing R F Simpson, the big Hollywood Producer of Monumental Pictures is Mark Curry, maybe best known for his time on Blue Peter, however as a musical theatre performer he certainly possess all the charm and talent needed for this role and gave a confident and polished performance.

Lina Lamont played by Jess Buckby was every inch the love her/hate her character. Buckby showed an abundance of star quality throughout.  The shrill in her voice reverberated around the theatre and really came into its own during ‘What’s Wrong With Me’, a brilliantly acted song with the right amount of pathos and humour to make for a memorable moment.  Our ultimate leading lady, Kathy Selden, is played beautifully by Lucie-Mae Sumner.  Now, having recently seen Lucie-Mae in the UK & Ireland Tour of I Should Be So Lucky, I was already aware of her incredible vocal talent, but the songs in this musical really showed off what a heaven-sent tone she has.  The opening line of ‘Lucky Star’ being ‘In my imagination…..’ gave me flashbacks of the Stock Aitken Waterman classic performed by Sumner very recently, and may be an ‘in joke’ that only I found funny, but without a doubt every single song performed throughout the show was pitch perfect and Sumner shone like the bright star she is.

The staging by Simon Wells, who also designed the costumes, is inventive and makes good use of the space available.  The ensemble cast work tirelessly throughout, not only with their slick routines, but also moving props and scenery pieces around the stage, which was a smooth and hassle-free process, thus not detracting from the action surrounding them. 

Director, Lee Proud has created a faithful retelling of this classic musical, with everything you could have hoped for, including big production numbers, incredible vocals and seamless scene transitions.  Of course, Singin’ In The Rain would be nothing without…..well, rain!  This came in abundance to close the first act and I’m not just talking about a trickle; this was a full-on torrential storm quickly filling the stage.  As Don Lockwood floats around in the many deep puddles, performer Jack Wilcox took relish in making a splash, and there was a definite twinkle in his eye as the front row got suitably covered!

As venues go, it’s one big tick, as musicals go, it’s another big tick and as casts go, it is one ginormous tick!  A torrential downpour in talent!

This show was reviewed on the 23rd June 2024 at Kilworth House Theatre, Leicestershire where it runs until the 28th July 2024.  Tickets available here: Kilworth House Theatre | Open Air Theatre in Leicestershire

Review written by Emma Rowley


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