“BTC’s Singing in the Rain is an uplifting, cheerful production that will have you grinning the whole way through…

Directed by Ellie Malley and Isabelle Evans, assisted by Linus Cheung, and produced by Catherine Wilcox, Bailey Theatre Company’s rendition of the tap-dancing musical classic Singing in the Rain left me beaming from ear to ear. With vibrant costumes, dazzling tap, and an unfalteringly spirited cast (despite tech not being in their favour!), this is an enjoyably heart-warming production which should not be missed.

Singing in the Rain transports its audience to 1920s Hollywood during the transition of silent films to talkies. The silent film star Don Lockwood, always accompanied by his comical sidekick: the studio musician Cosmo Brown, has no trouble adapting. However, his co-star Lina Lamont’s grating voice threatens their new film’s failure. Don meets Kathy Selden, a rising stage actor who agrees to dub Lina’s voice in the new film, and the two fall in love. 

Jude Battersby plays the protagonist Don with enchanting charisma, and his natural flare for the stage is evident from beginning to end. Liam Gee as Don’s goofy companion, Cosmo, is a pleasure to watch, receiving non-stop laughs from the audience at his every movement and utterance, and a well-deserved huge cheer after his hilarious song ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’. The two bounce off one another with their effortless chemistry, particularly during the jovial song ‘Moses Supposes’.

Posy Portwood must be commended for her exceptional characterisation as Lina. Portwood is Lina through and through, with her mannerisms and annoyingly squeaky voice nailed to a tee and a consistently flawless deliverance of a notably challenging accent. Her execution of the song ‘What’s Wrong with Me?’ is especially comical and embodies Lina’s insufferable character to perfection.

Maia Harris Lindop as Kathy Selden and Nathan Jarvis as Roscoe Dexter were both vocal standouts of the musical, with a gorgeous vibrato from Lindop in ‘You Are My Lucky Star’ and a touching jazzy tone from Jarvis in ‘Beautiful girl’.

Adam Kiralvarga undertook an ambitious task choreographing this musical and did a great job of ensuring that the dancing is dynamic throughout. It is a shame that only a few members of the cast wear tap shoes as the hard work of creating and learning the impressive routines is consequently not appreciated to its full potential. In addition, although the use of a thrust stage is on-the-whole effective, the dance ensemble seems limited by the worry of falling off the narrow staging! Overall, although the dancing could be tidier, the cast works together to deliver a very dance-heavy musical with vitality and glamour. 

The entire band, conducted by musical director Jonjo Palmer, deserves a huge praise for their delightful prowess. Although the music feels a little under rehearsed in places, Palmer does an excellent job of ensuring the energy was consistent.

Unfortunately, the tech substantially limits the musical. The mic issues throughout the whole performance results in an extremely jarring experience, often meaning the cast cannot be heard. Whilst the use of the projector to display the films is a clever and potentially extremely successful idea, the awkward silence as the audience waited for the operator to set it up caused a major disruption to the musical. I thoroughly hope that this will be more seamless in subsequent performances and that the problem with the mics is solved, as it is a great misfortune for everyone’s obvious hard work to be set back by this. That being said, Miles Balderson as production manager should be praised for elements such as the lighting. While a few queues could be tidier, lighting designs such as during the song ‘Singing in the Rain’, with use of blue lights, flashes, and a rain effect projected onto the back wall, are notably effective, and Balderson utilises the limiting college venue to its full potential.

BTC’s Singing in the Rain is an uplifting, cheerful production that will have you grinning the whole way through. The fact that it was such an enjoyable show despite the tech issues is a testament to the whole cast and crew, who carried on singing, despite the rain.

By Rachel Wilkinson

Singing in The Rain will continue to show at Leech Hall, St. John’s College DH1 3RJ at 19:30 on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of February, with an additional 14:00 matinee on the Saturday.

Photo Credits: Bailey Theatre Company