North East Essex Theatre Guild Adjudicator's Report
Singin' in the Rain
Clacton Musical Theatre Society
West Cliff Theatre, Clacton
23rd June 2011
On arrival at the theatre we met a bustling front of house with lots of eager audience members. We were given our tickets and duly took our seats in the theatre. All the front of house staff were extremely friendly and welcoming.
Before the performance I had time to study the programme, it was well designed and gave the audience a good synopsis of the show together with information about the cast.
As the curtains opened to an Oscars style red carpet scene one was immediately transported back to a silent movie awards night and the pomp and ceremony of that occasion.
A difficult set to manage and adapt to this theatre, there were more than a few technical glitches on the night with curtains not going across, holding up the performance. Once everything was in place the set did look good, although the scene changes did detract from the action quite a few times.
Good attention to detail and in keeping with the era. I particularly liked the scenes set in the studio with the costume ladies in the background, the props were spot on.
Lighting and Sound
I did feel that the microphones did create a distraction from some of the performances as occasionally some of the actors were difficult to hear. Also at one point someone forgot to switch off a microphone and a cast member could be heard having a conversation back stage! The clapping soundtrack also finished very abruptly! The lighting was good, and I especially enjoyed the “You were meant for me” scene with the ladder centre stage. It was very well thought with different shades of lighting and the twinkling star cloth in the background. My only lighting “problem” was with the Singing in the Rain number as the rain did not look like rain, I know you cannot have real rain but there are more effective way of creating a rain effect with lighting these days.
Costume and Makeup
The costumes had all been well thought out and were very much in the correct style of the era. BUT ladies where were your handbags? Ladies of this era would never go out without some sort of handbag! The wigs on the whole I thought were good, although I did feel that Kathy's wig hid her eyes somewhat, the fringe was too long . Make-up, there was a little too much bright blue eye shadow for my liking (again referring to Kathy) Personally I think a more natural look for some of the performers would have created a better effect.
Dora Bailey (Gillian Flynn) - Looked good, especially in her opening costume. Her opening scene looked as if she was reading the script from her prop and her speech was a little stilted. This could have been down to nerves but I found her a little difficult to hear.
Zelda Zanders (Jane Parkinson), Olga Mara (Tracey Williams) Mary Margaret (Leanne Symes) - Nice little cameo roles from these ladies, especially the endearing Zelda Zanders.
R.F.Simpson (Bill Davies) - Commanding movie mogul with a convincing American accent. Totally believable character, well done.
Roscoe Dexter (Neil Murphie) - Good characterisation, lovely American accent with a Scottish twang! Worked well with R.F.Simpson.
Cosmo Brown (Keith Goldsbrough) - Keith commanded the stage from the moment he appeared. He was confident, funny and self assured making this character loveable and endearing to the audience. His singing voice was good and his dancing very energetic, particularly in the “Make em Laugh” scene! Very well done.
Lina Lamont (Katie Barnett) - Although Katie Barnett performed well and her character was suitably awful in parts I felt that sometimes she was just too nice! All in all she worked really hard and her solo was very pleasant. In fact with her air of innocence she would have equally been at home in the part of Kathy.
Don Lockwood (Ben Long) - What a lovely happy chappy! Ben played Don with lots of energy and enthusiasm. He was totally believable and convincing as the leading man and made a perfect partnership with Cosmo! I didn't really feel a connection between him and Kathy, their relationship seemed a little forced, but this could have been down to direction. Well done Ben!
Young Don and Young Cosmo (Harry McCarthy and Jack Speck) - The boys looked great and performed their short number to perfection, ones to watch out for in the future no doubt!
Kathy Seldon (Laura Thompson) - Laura has a beautiful voice which I could listen to all evening, particularly lovely in the number “Lucky Star”. Although she played the part well I didn't feel any real chemistry between her and Don. Kathy is a strong actress and has a good stage presence and due to her strength of character would have made a great Lina as well, which gave me the impression she could potentiality be cast in a number of differing roles.
Assistant Directors (Terry Ratcliffe, Steve Collit and Sam McCarthy) - Funny threesome who played their parts well with great comic timing.
Wardrobe Ladies (Gwen Porter and Jean Murphie) - Lovely ladies, played their parts convincingly and unobtrusively in the background!
Production Tenor (Sam McCarthy) - Sam needs to support his voice more when singing to avoid straining on the high notes but his was a pleasing little cameo role.
Miss Dinsmore (Tracey Williams) - Again, a nice little cameo.
Male Diction Teacher (Graham Tippett) - Enjoyed this short cameo role, played with conviction and comedy!
Sound Engineer (Richard Taylor) - Small role played well, very likeable.
Sid Phillips (Colin Davies) - Endearing character making a big impact in a very small role.
The dancers were well rehearsed and slick, would have liked to have seen a few more smiles though! The Chorus at times seemed a little unsure as to where to go or stand and I found them a little difficult to hear at times, I don't know whether this was a sound or a musical direction issue? However the genuine enthusiasm of all the ensemble members made up for any inadequacies on the night.
The musicians,under the direction of Geoff Osborne were on the whole well rehearsed and played competently throughout the show. The chorus occasionally seemed a little unsure and despite their numbers were inaudible at times. The soloists where all well drilled and all gave confident performances.
Ashleigh Masters choreography, was very traditional and true to the original film version of Singing in the Rain. Personally for me there was too much tap dancing in the show. It is very difficult to teach people to tap and although Ashleigh had done a fantastic job with this some of the performers looked awkward when they were trying to dance and act at the same time. I feel more could have been done with the Singing in the Rain number, perhaps a few chorus dancers/ people in the background? This is the song everyone knows in the show and I felt it needed more substance. Again as Don Lockwood was trying to show how happy he was, the tap dancing became a distraction, he looked a little lost on stage and it did not look effortless.
The main dancing numbers were drilled to perfection and the dancing ensemble showed confidence and were well presented. All in all the choreography had been well thought out and researched and Ashleigh showed great future potential.
David Thompson created a watch-able show with some lovely moments. I loved the bustling company scenes at the movie theatre which were a joy to watch. The principals were well rehearsed and had good characterisation, however I feel that the chorus could have been given a little more direction in some parts. I liked the audience hecklers. they were an amusing addition. It is so difficult to direct a cast of various ages and abilities but David did an admirable job.
This is a very difficult show to stage as it has been taken straight from the film version and some of the scenes are notoriously difficult to adapt, especially the movie scenes (which I felt were a tad too long). All in all it was an enjoyable evening with some lovely moments, thank you for inviting me and I look forward to your next show.