The opening night crowd burst into spontaneous applause as the stage rain
fell from the theatrical sky. My witty guest quipped, "That's the first time I've
ever seen an audience applaud plumbing".
It is spectacular plumbing, and what fun to see water soaking Todd
McKenney's perfectly gelled hair as he kicks water at the front row. The miniature
brollies provided were no protection. The finale has the entire cast in Paddington
Bear yellow macs under big yellow umbrellas.
"Gotta dance" is exactly how that toe-tappin' number, Singin' in the
Rain, makes one feel. David Atkins with stars McKenney, Rachael Beck, Wayne Scott
Kermond and Jackie Love provide us with welcome relief from the trials of the ravaged real
It's a boy meets girl tale. The vaudevillian makes good in silent
movies, but when the first talkie changes the face of movie-making forever, his career is
McKenney is charming in the lead as Don Lockwood, the role made famous by
Gene Kelly. McKenney is all delightful teeth and smiles, dancing like a '40s hoofer.
There are moments when his singing is not note-perfect, but Gene Kelly
was no Pavarotti. McKenney is a music theatre star since his success in Boy
As his onstage love interest, Beck has plenty of voice and talent to
burn in the role of pert wannabe actress, Kathy Seldon. Her solo, You Are My Lucky
Star, was superb.
A major drawcard is the recognition factor. We recongise Kelly's
exceptional choreography and many songs and scenes from the movie.
Kermond plays Don's vaudeville partner, Cosmo Brown, Donald O'Connor's
role. Kermond is a skilful, seasoned and lively music theatre performer. With
Atkins, he recreates the "climb the wall" dance sequence, sending the audience into
The "good morning" routine is another recognised number in which the trio
dance over the back of a couch. We sing along with Make 'Em Laugh, Broadway
Melody, Beautiful Girls and the classic word-play song, Moses Supposes.
What is less successful is the slapstick and clowning. None of the
three leads is a natural clown, so the comedy often feels manufactured.
Which brings us to the crunch. This production feels
tired. It is flat and at times lacks the intense energy required to make this kind of
huge, light entertainment work at optimum level. Perhaps six months running in
Sydney, getting soaked every night, has worn the cast out sooner than expected. It
needs an injection of high-octane pep juice.
Jackie Love's bimbo, Lina Lamont, is a highlight. She squeaks as
the vengeful, stupid, silent-movie actress whose shrill voice is unsuited to
talkies. Her solo, What's Wrong With Me? is sparkling, vivacious and
Another high point was Sheree da Costa's fantasy scene. Her dance
is sexy, lyrical and provocative.
The designers and technicians are also stars. Michael Anania's set
creates miniature versions of New York cityscapes. Trudy Dalgliesh's lighting is
evocative and is echoed by whimsical fairy lights on head-dresses in Paula Ryan's wild '20s
Conrad Helfrich's musical direction is well-supported by the band of
This show is all bells and whistles. Take a break from your real
L-R: Todd McKenney, Rachael Beck and Wayne Scott Kermond