Left – Christie Whelan-Browne and Rohan Browne. Cover – Alinta Chidzey and Rohan Browne. Photos – Jeff Busby
The difficulty in staging a production of Singin' in the Rain is that everyone who goes to see it has the 1952 film stamped indelibly in their imagination and this becomes a tacit benchmark for the performance. Will she sound as grating as the film Lina? How will they do the title sequence? Are they going to leave in that interminable Broadway bit? Will Cosmo run up the wall?
Happily, The Production Company's offering approaches this challenge with an endearing self-awareness that works with our imagination rather than against it. The staging of the title song does honour to the original. The Broadway sequence is still in but mercifully truncated somewhat. Cosmo runs... well, you'll have to see for yourself.
Christie Whelan-Browne's Lina Lamont is outstanding – over the top, yet never overplayed – and is given an extra scene and her own song. In a priceless moment where she stumbles upon a moment of perfect diction, we share her surprise and delight. Rohan Browne and Matt Lee as Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown make a good pairing and hold their own in the singing and dancing stakes, though it has to be said the absence of clattering tapdance's percussiveness detracts somewhat from the overall spectacle. Alinta Chidzey is quietly glowing as Kathy Selden, giving the show much of its warmth.
Highlights for me included the Moses Supposes routine, which showed Browne and Lee at their best as dancers and which was played with extra energy and genuine playfulness. Also John O'Hara in an enlarged role as Roscoe Dexter, whose bitchy-queen histrionics injected the already funny sound recording sequence with an additional dimension of exuberance. And a delightful and unexpected cameo from a big name star was a nice touch.
In short, with fine accompaniment from Orchestra Victoria, Singin' in the Rain is a class act, fit as a fiddle and ready for audiences to love. Indeed, the memory of it will bring fresh joy to each viewing of a much-loved film. It's only a pity that The Production Company's seasons don't run longer, really.
The Production Company presents
Singin’ In The Rain
by Betty Comden and Adolph Green | songs by Nacio Herb and Arthur Freed
Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 21 – 25 Aug, 2013
Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au or call 1300 182 183