Book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown
at the Epsom Playhouse
Director - Lisa Scott
Music Director - Dennis Hooker
Choreographer - Aimee Clarke-Hooker
|Don Lockwood||Paul Nicholas Dyke|
|Kathy Seldon||Charlie Qureshi|
|Cosmo Brown||Steve Watkins|
|Lina Lamont||Rebeca Cenamor|
|R.F. Simpson||Dilip Patel|
|Roscoe Dexter||Len Martin|
|Production Singer/J Cumberland Spendrill III/Villian/Ensemble||Russell Thompson|
|Dora Bailey/Ensemble||Sandra Zeffman|
|Male Diction Coach/Ensemble||Charlie Blencowe|
|Miss Dinsmore/Olga Mara/Ensemble||Julie Parker|
|Zelda Zanders/Ensemble||Olivia Jane Parker|
|Sid Phillips/Tramp/Sam (Butler)/Ensemble||Steve Leitch|
|First Assistant Director/Ensemble||Max Marchesi|
|Second Assistant Director/Ensemble||Anthony Black|
|Third Assistant Director/Ensemble||Sarah Farley|
|Lady In Waiting||Charlotte Thompson|
|Young Don||Oliver Furze|
|Young Cosmo||Robin Ward|
|Burlesque Dancer||Claire Newton|
|Mary Margaret/Ensemble||Helen Ash|
|Mary Margaret's Husband/Ensemble||John Hayman-Joyce|
|Wardrobe Mistress||Melanie Beggs|
|Mrs R F Simpson/Ensemble||Louise Laithwaite|
|Charlie Chaplin/Ensemble||Simon Ferrier|
|Coconut Grove Dancers||
1952 movie musical Singin' in the Rain ranked as the fifth greatest motion picture of all time in 2007, and has been popular on stage ever since the first theatre production at the London Palladium in 1983. It is set in the waning days of the silent screen era as they give way to new -fangled 'talkies'. It's 1927 and Hollywood is busy churning out dozens of silent movies when the premier of The Jazz Singer takes place. It is the first feature length motion picture with synchronised sound, and its overnight success heralds the decline of silent movies. The studios are forced to suddenly change all the movie-making rules at once, to accommodate sound.
It's 1927 and it is the opening night of Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont's new silent movie, which is being premiered at the Graumann's Chinese Theatre. Gossip columnist Dora Bailey interviews Don Lockwood who provides an account of his early life. Afterwards we learn why Don would not let his leading lady make a speech - Lina has the voice of a strangled frog! She also wants to make the publicity department's trumped up romance between the two of them a reality.
Cosmo Brown, Don's friend and ex dancing partner, takes Lina to the studio party, allowing Don to go for a walk. He is spotted by some fans and he pretends to be with a girl who is sitting on a bench. The girl, Kathy Selden, is at first outraged. Then, when she realises who she is with, unimpressed by the screen idol explaining that she wants to be a "serious" actress on the stage. Don, however, is very taken with Kathy. Don continues on to the studio party where the boss of Monumental Pictures, R.F. Simpson, gives a demonstration of the new talking pictures. A huge cake is wheeled on and out pops Kathy who, much to her embarrassment, comes face to face with Don. He makes fun of the fact that, having claimed to be a "serious " actress, she is working as a dancer. Kathy throws a cake at him, misses and hits Lina.
On stage at Monumental Pictures, Don is getting ready to shoot his new movie The Duelling Cavalier. He is concerned about Kathy, who has lost her job because of pie-gate, so Cosmo tries to cheer him up. The movie's director, Roscoe Dexter, arrives to begin shooting the love scene between Don and Lina but it turns into an argument when Lina announces that she got Kathy fired. R.F. then suspends filming as he decides it has to be re-shot as a talkie. Meanwhile Kathy gets a job in Monumental's first musical and is spotted in the chorus. Kathy is put under contract - on condition that the news is kept from Lina. Don declares his love for Kathy on a deserted sound stage making use of stage effects to create the right romantic mood.
Preparing for their first talkie, Don and Lina have elocution lessons. Lina's is going badly but Don is doing well, although Cosmo arrives to mock. Filming of The Duelling Cavalier hits problems as the sound men desperately try to find a place for the microphone. "It's in the bush", Roscoe tells Lina - again and again- but she is hopeless. The preview of the movie is a disaster; the dialogue and Lina's voice are terrible. The audience is appalled and the studio faces ruin if the film's problems cannot be fixed. At home, Don is depressed, until Kathy and Cosmo come up with the proposal to remake the picture as a musical with Kathy miming for Lina. The trio celebrate this brilliant idea. Don takes Kathy home in his limousine. They kiss in the rain at her door and Don walks home "Singin' in the rain"!
Kathy records Lina's singing and dialogue in secret but Lina finds out from her friend and bursts in to catch Don and Kathy. Furious, Lina threatens revenge. The opening of the renamed Dancing Cavalier is a success. Lina insists that Kathy be kept only as her voice and given no career of her own. Even R.F. has had enough and when Lina insists on making a speech, he doesn't try to stop her. The audience is shocked to hear her real voice and they demand a song. Kathy sings behind a curtain while Lina mimes a reprise of the show's hit song. Don and Cosmo raise the curtain to reveal Kathy singing. The audience is hysterical and Lina is humiliated. Kathy runs from the stage and Don asks the audience to stop her. She is now the real star - not Lina. Kathy's career is now assured and she and Don embrace.
|LISA SCOTT - DIRECTOR
Lisa first got involved in theatre at the tender age of two when she grabbed the mic off of a holiday camp host who was talking to her and then starting singing and dancing across the stage. She went on to train part time at the Italia Conti Stage School whilst still pursuing normal studies at a mainstream school, which has now led to her somewhat dichotomous lifestyle of a Chartered Management Accountant by day and theatre-mad geek at night! Lisa has thoroughly enjoyed bringing the wonderful 'Singin' in the Rain' to life working with Dennis, Aimée and a lovely, talented cast and crew. Previously she has directed Stephen Sondheim's 'Company' and Kander & Ebb's 'Curtains' for The Lyric Players. She still treads the boards herself and has played many wonderful roles, most recently in October 2016 for ELOC as Mame (Mame). Other roles working with ELOC include Little Buttercup (HMS Pinafore), Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes), Maria (Lend Me A Tenor), Alice (Titanic—the Musical) and Alex (The Witches of Eastwick).
DENNIS HOOKER - MUSICAL DIRECTOR
AIMEE CLARKE-HOOKER - CHOREOGRAPHER
Promotional Photos - By Charlotte Thompson
Photos for our promotional photo shoot are available for viewing - click here
Dress Rehearsal Photos - By Andy Carter
Photos from the Dress Rehearsal are available for viewing - click here
Review from Jon Fox, NODA Rep
EPSOM LIGHT OPERA COMPANY
"SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" Epsom Playhouse, 28th April, 2017
Very, very occasionally I see an amateur, in theory, show and leave wondering what was actually amateur about the show. Apart from the stage performers not being paid, this was such a show. Frankly, to describe this performance as amateur in any way at all would be laughable.
From start to finish the whole show was of tip-top quality. All the key principal players would have graced the West End itself. The show itself is an absolute corker featuring the single most iconic scene in musical theatre history. A believable and moving story with memorable tunes, melodic singing, an exceptional band, stunning dance routines and colourful and top quality costumes; what more could any real musical lover ever want!
Every scene was wonderfully enacted and all the key players were real stars who could sing, act and dance, which is rather better than the early review of Fred Astaire, of whom it was famously and risibly said "can't act, can't sing, can dance a little." Whatever happened to him?!! And I haven't even mentioned Gene Kelly and in this of all shows too.
The four cornerstone roles were Paul Nicholas Dyke as Don Lockwood, Rebeca Kemble as Lina Lamont, Steven Watkins as Cosmo Brown and Charlie Qureshi as Kathy Seldon.
Set in 1927, at the birth of the "talkies" the story tells of the silent screen partnership of Lockwood and Lamont and the machinations of their moving into the talkie era, though Lina had a voice like a strangled American cat. There was ample scope for the innovative Director Lisa Scott to marry high comedy with pathos, always a potent combination. The business with Lina and the microphone was a strong case in point - to play this vulnerable, egotistical and combustible character and maintain that appalling voice as Lina throughout was a massive achievement for Rebeca.
Paul Nicholas as Don was the perfect leading man type. Strong, and extremely able, oozing confidence, charisma and making everything look effortless, Don bestrode the stage like a Colossus. Somewhat younger and slighter in figure, his dancing partner Steven Watkins as the likeable Cosmo Brown was a perfect foil. Energetic in the extreme, Steven and Paul had the perfect professional partnership chemistry since teenagers in the wonderful "Fit as a Fiddle" both playing in rare style. These two certainly could act, sing and dance. And with more taps than Thames Water, with no leakage or spillage either. Far from! Completing the mighty foursome was Charlie Qureshi as the humble but gifted Kathy Seldon. Charlie played this reluctant and likeable star with humility and finely nuanced skill.
Director Lisa Scott made effective use of a black / white screen to show clips of silent movies. Chris Evans was a man explaining how talking pictures work and the use of the screen perfectly encapsulated the landmark change from silent to talking pictures. The park bench scene and the screen sword fight were excellently done.
The only other character who had a solo song was Russell Thompson as Production Tenor, who put over "Beautiful Girl" in fine style and all resplendent in white. He also played a scary villain and J Cumberland Spendrill III.
The Coconut Grove dancers: Lucinda Banton, Melanie Beggs, Aimée Clark-Hooker, Louise Henry, Claire Newton, Harri Nichols, Helen Pennicard, Krysia Szafranski and Charlotte Thompson gave excellent support for Kathy in the splendid "All I do is Dream of You". "Lucky Star", when the male dancers accompanied Kathy was another marvellous number, with Kathy's melodic voice soaring.
As each scene, dance or song came along, I was left wondering how the company could maintain the incredible standard, but the show just kept on sizzling, scene after scene.
The blue sky backdrop perfectly showcased Don on a step ladder in "You Were Meant for Me". Again superb!!
I also loved the pathos and humour of Lina learning - or rather not learning - how to speak properly with a female vocal coach, Miss Dinsmore, played with "frustrated stoicism" by Julie Parker. Yet another enjoyable scene. Julie also played Olga Mara.
"Moses Supposes" featuring Don, Cosmo and Male Diction Coach (Charlie Blencowe) was slick in the extreme with crisp and polished tap dancing.
"Good Morning" with Don, Cosmo, Kathy and a starring role for the sofa really brought the house down and then, to end act one in a blaze of glory, came "Singin' in the Rain" - that most iconic of all showbiz scenes. It might have been wet on stage but all around the audience we were glI
In Act 2 we were treated to three principals - Kathy, Don and Lina all performing "Would You"in differing ways but all fine styles. Lina's singing of "What's Wrong with Me" was very emotional, particularly when performed to such a standard as Rebeca achieved. This was my favourite number of all. Lina's vulnerability and frustration was perfectly captured.
A vibrant "Broadway Melody" backed by the ensemble raised the roof and the superb finale "Singin' in the Rain" reinforced the previous magnetic standard.
Musical Director Dennis Hooker controlled his band with great assurance and they really captured the feel of this era with it's mixof show ballads, up tempo and varying styles of music. Working closely together with the inspiring choreography of Aimée Clark-Hooker, the standard of singing and dance throughout, including some fabulous tap routines was of a standard way beyond most amateur shows.
Show Director Lisa Scott used the ample stage and her gifted to perfection. The "reveal" scene and use of tabs when Lina was outed was magnificently handled. Magical pace and drama throughout the evening was achieved and the large cast were like a well oiled machine. The aforementioned drama, pathos, energy, and colour, backed up by stunning and realistic costumes from Triple C Costumiers, Elizabeth Callow and Sally Dallosso, co-ordinated by Elizabeth, lifted this show way, way above the "technically correct" label of an amateur show. The yellow macs and red brollies together with the dancing costumes et al were top professional standard.
Lighting designer Simon Banks and his team together with Stuart Vaughan and team on Sound provided the sort of technical support rarely seen outside the West End. The numerous stage crew under Stage Manager Sarah Wood, DSM Jo Epps and ASM's Simon Haysom and Lisa Waugh worked tirelessly and seamlessly. Even the easy to read programme with a welcome and comprehensive mention of NODA, quality plus both colour and black / white cast pics and a generous and important "Support Your Local Societies section" was highly impressive.
A truly magical evening and I salute you, each and every one in ELOC! You have set the bar very high indeed.It was one of the very best shows I have seen as a NODA rep.
NODA District 19
Review from Mike at the HRTT Trust
This is the third ELOC Production that I have attended as a trustee and it was clear from the moment the band struck up the Overture, that this was going to be a production of quality.
The band, sadly nameless and not credited in the program, were tight and disciplined and created a perfect accompaniment to the performers. The balance was excellent throughout, probably as a result of the first class sound engineering. Every word was clear in both singing and dialogue, however, the only drawback is that the non-amplified chorus sounded weaker than they were.
What a superb casting of the main characters! The whole show rotates around Don, Kathy, Cosmo and Lina, all of whom were of professional standard. Both Paul Nicholas Dyke and Steven Watkins (Don and Cosmo) were a perfect double act where neither out shone the other. Both were accomplished dancers and singers and Steven, the master of facial animation. With the seemingly impossible task of following Gene Kelly and Donald O Connor, both did so, impeccably.
Charlie Qureshi, as Kathy, had a wonderful voice which sounded clear and expressive throughout and made the challenging passages sound effortless. Rebecca Kemble was outstanding as the shrill-toned course speaking Lina Lamont. Her vocal characterisation was perfectly sustained throughout, no mean feat for such a caricature. Her rendering of "What's Wrong With Me?" was one of the high points of the show.
The period dancing of the dancers and ensemble was well choreographed and performed with impressive synchronisation as were the tap routines. Again the quality of the four main parts saw them move effortlessly in and out of beautifully arranged dance routines with 'Good Morning' being of special note.
Throughout the first half I couldn't help waiting with some anticipation to see how they would approach the iconic eponymous number. Astonishing! A superbly choreographed and performed routine, complete with real rain, far exceeded my expectations. The fact that Paul Nicholas Dyke could both sing and dance that number with an ease which belied the Olympian difficulty of it, is a testament to this man's quality.
The sets were transitioned with impressive speed and fluidity and costumes, hair and make-up perfect in period detail.
This show could easily have been on the West End.
Hats off to Lisa Scott, Dennis Hooker and Aimee Clarke-Hooker for a first class evening.
Our investment in this society is very well spent.
|"Best show I have seen this year, what an amazing evening."||"So wonderfull to see this show, with real rain at the Epsom Playhouse."||"Loved the show, such a professional company"|
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