The hubs and I rarely get to go on a date in the evenings, since we try to spend the evenings with our kids. I think I can count on one hand the number of such dates we’ve had in the past 2 years. So when an opportunity to watch a musical arises, it’s really a delight.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film Singin’ in the Rain was produced in 1952, and the story was set in 1927, the era of bottle-nosed cars, and beautiful cloche hats.
More importantly, it was the era when Hollywood movies were at the cusp of moving from silent ones to full audio versions. Hence the story revolving around the protagonist who is a silent-movie star, and whether he and his company would successfully transit in the face of such disruptive change.
12,000 litres of water is used at every performance! Was tickled to see the asterisk on publicity posters assuring all and sundry that all water used is treated and recycled. That was certainly tailored to this market, since Singaporeans are a conscious lot when it comes to the use of the precious resource of clean water.
Once that was made clear, our minds were set at ease to wholly enjoy the visual spectacle of lead actor South African Duane Alexander assuming the role of Don Lockwood with aplomb, splashing away as the torrents rained down.
Overall, I felt CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Products, James Cundall puts it aptly:
The movie is arguably the greatest Hollywood musical ever made because of the incredible range and complexity of its song and dance numbers. To see these performed ‘live’ on a theatre stage is a breath-taking experience.
The tap dancing was fascinating, and the crisp sharp movements of the dancers told a story of sheer hard work at hours of practice.
Watching the musical was like getting An education in the fashion of the day. The loose shift-dress that Kathy wears when she sings ‘Good morning’, the tasseled dresses of the cabaret, the office wear with cloche hats shaped like a close-fitting bell atop a woman’s head.
My favourite scene was actually the colourful opening after the intermission, when office girls decked in hats and technicolor dresses did a dance at a table full of old dial phones.
Bethany Dickson’s warm dulcet voice conveyed the guileless youth of aspiring artist Kathy Seldon convincingly, and she was the star of the show for me.
The front rows had plenty of time to put on their ponchos as the ‘thunder’ rumbled at length in anticipation of a major storm in the middle of the musical, but it was hilarious for the rest of us to see them scrambling at the finale when it suddenly poured again and the whole cast appeared to dance and swish about in the rain puddles. And rain on them it certainly did!
Some critics have mentioned how it is actually a rather cynical movie, which subtly presents a world where everyone is pretending to be what he is not. Don is not quite the serious actor he thought he was, Kathy is a chorus line girl rather than the theatre actress she says she is, Lina has a voice that would sink a thousand ships, and the film producer sells out when threatened with the age-old lethal bullet – the American lawsuit.
Although meant as comic relief, I felt a sense of pathos as super-sidekick Cosmos sang ‘Make ’em laugh’. As part of a live audience, one can’t help but feel keenly that he was talking about us, really. And it brought home how artists do need to pander to the audience at their own expense, and deliver slapstick when it might not be what they desire to do as an artist. Or maybe I was reading too much into it.
Regardless, the dark moments never lingered long, before they were overtaken by what is good, right and true. Chicanery is exposed, bullying is dispelled, and true love prevails.
At the turning point where Don decides to expose the deception to the ‘audience’ at the risk of losing his job, I thought it was particularly clever to have Kathy run down the stage into the midst of the actual audience, blurring boundaries and adding realism to the ‘theatre set’ of that scene.
It is indeed a light, happy, feel-good movie, decked with fancy footwork, and a beautiful array of colours that harkens one back to the first days of vivid technicolor.
Singin’ in the Rain
9-26 July 2015
MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands
Sat: 2pm and 8pm
Sun: 1pm and 6:30pm
Ticket prices: From $65 to $195 (excludes booking fee of $4 per ticket)
Book your tickets at: www.sistic.com.sg
Note: We were provided a pair of tickets for the purpose of this review.