It’s one of those titles many of us can recall from our childhood. My parents had watched Singin’ in the Rain numerous times on television while I was doing homework or playing in the family room. Considered one of the OGs of rom-coms, the film (1952) was a sensation and starred Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor. It’s one that always leaves a very happy, hummable tune in your head for days. It’s all rainbows and sunshine at the end of the day.
When we heard Mirvish was bringing to the musical stage production to Toronto, the first reaction was “Oh a classic. That’s nice.” But nice isn’t quite the word to describe it — It’s glamorous, flawless and a HELLUVA LOT OF FUN!
The story of one of Hollywood’s most iconic films follows two famous silent film stars Don Lockwood (Sam Lips) and Lina Lamont (Faye Tozer) as they transition from their comforts of fame into uncharted territories. It was the roaring ’20s and both reaped in the fame for their acting abilities. Celebrated on, and off, screen, their star power was unwavering until the Motion Pictures studio executives decided to introduce new technology — voice.
What? Talking pictures? Very cool. This musical intentionally shows hiccups, mishaps in the process in a clever and entertaining way. For those who haven’t seen the film or musical in a while (or ever) it offer an appreciation for the transition in its earliest forms inspired by real-life experiences.
Aside from the technology, many silent film actors were not able to transition successfully to motion pictures with sound.
In Singin’ in the Rain it was the character of Lina with her heavy Brooklyn accent (or is it Bostonian? Jersey?) that needed a lot of work – although not according to her. But even a voice coach couldn’t redeem her.
Lina’s voice wasn’t the only challenge for the silent-turned-talking pictures actress. Her relationship with her on screen partner Don was far from what the film studio dreamed up, gossip columnists had played up and what the public perceived. But Don played along on the red carpets until he met Kathy Seldon (Charlotte Gooch) — a young and talented actress herself who could sing and dance with a beautiful voice.
The star-studded duo of Don and Lina previewed their first talking film “The Dueling Cavalier” with cringe-worthy reactions. All the sudden both their careers were threatened. It was his long time friend Cosmo Brown (Alastair Crosswell) who had the idea of changing the story into a musical and then switch out Lina’s voice for Kathy’s. The deal was meant to be a one-time gig and in exchange for doing so, Kathy’s acting career would also get a jump-start. But when Lina was tipped off about the scheme she quickly realized that she too can benefit from the voice over. After all, it was her face on the screen and no one knew any different, right?
This production is a true delight in all aspects. It’s absolutely flawless. From the singing, choreography, set design, hair, make up and costumes we were swept right in and transported to glamorous Hollywood of the early Golden Age era in cinema.
Sam Lips plays a debonair Don full of charisma and charm that you definitely can imagine as a Gene Kelly. Charlotte Gooch is a much-loved Kathy for us in the audience with her spit-fire personality. And we’d love to know how Faye Tozer nailed the grinding voice of Lina with perfection and seemed to have a blast doing so!
We were mesmerized with the performers that sing, dance and perform each night (and sometimes matinees too) with such high energy in this stage production. How they manage to go-go-go so effortlessly cool and not out of breath is beyond talented.
We’re also in awe with all the dancing and singing with some serious rainfall on stage. We should really be paying extra for that added fun! Hats off brilliant set designers and also to the clean up crew!
If you’re looking for a fun night out – this is worthwhile and highly entertaining! Guaranteed you’ll leave the theatre smiling!
Singin’ in the Rain the musical is now playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto until October 23, 2022 (note: new matinee performance added on October 20). For more information and tickets visit: www.mirvish.com
What else is happening in Toronto now? Check out our City Girl’s Guide here.