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Singin' in the Rain

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

There's a moment everyone's been waiting for in outgoing Pitlochry Festival Theatre artistic director John Durnin's pre Christmas revival of the stage musical that brought Stanley Donen's 1952 film to full soaking life. The recreation of the film's iconic title number, in which silent movie star Don Lockwood hoofs his way through every puddle in town, goes down a storm. This is especially so for the front row revellers caught in the splash-back, so heartily chuffed are they to be part of something that seems to have burst through the big screen that made it so familiar.

This accidental move into immersive theatre speaks volumes about the power of all-singing, all dancing evergreens such as this, which retains both Betty Comden and Adolph Green's original screenplay and its accompanying songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. As it charts the move from silent movies to talking pictures, the show itself is a knowing peek behind the screens at what almost certainly wasn't a more innocent Hollywood age. In this respect, much of the fun comes from the black and white recreations of the silent era's last gasp, as well as as the gloriously cack-handed routine that sees blonde starlet Lina Lamont attempt in vain to come to terms with new technology.

Beyond this, it is the flesh and blood romance between Grant Neal's square-jawed Don and Mari McGinlay's wannabe serious actress Kathy Seldon and their interplay with Don's side-kick Cosmo Brown, played with gusto by George Rae, that gives the show its heart. This is heightened by its series of toe-tapping set-pieces overseen by choreographer Chris Stuart-Wilson. It is Helen Mallon who steals things, however, as poor deluded Lina, whose tuneless squeak of a voice kills her career while all about her have a splashing time.

The Herald, December 11th 2017

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