Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 15 February 2014

It's 1929. It's Hollywood. the darlings of the silent movie world, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamarr are at their latest premiere but all is not hunky dory with the two silent movie starlets. The first talking picture is the latest thing, The Jazz Singer, and to keep in with the latest hip high flyers, Lockwood and Lamarr have to turn their latest disaster around by making it all singing, all dancing, all talking. Only one problem, Lina Lamarr can't sing, can't dance....and when she talks.....

Enter stage right our hero, Kathy Sheldon, to save the picture and to win the heart of the dashing leading man, Tom Lockwood.

Matthew Malthouse played the leading man, Lockwood, but the role is shared by James Leece as well, but I say Matthew tonight, and what a superb suave, sophisticated version of the Gene Kelly character he played, and although no one can do the "rain" scene like Kelly, he gave it his best shot.

Kathy Sheldon was played delightfully by Amy Ellen Richardson and has a voice just as sweet as her looks. A nice match for the Debbie Reynolds character in the film.

The comic character, Cosmo Brown, played in the 1952 film by Donald O Connor, was played by Stephane Anelli. And what a performance, doing great justice to the song "Make 'Em Laugh" and his pairing with the others on "Good Morning", if pairing is correct for a trio!

For me though the star of the show, and this is just my personal preference, was Faye Tozer, who we all remember from the band Steps, as Lina Lamarr, with the Bronx accent that sounds just like nails being drawn slowly down a very long blackboard. What a great little character actor she has turned out to be.

Also featuring quite highly is Maxwell Caulfield as the film company boss, R F Simpson.

Some good choreography from Andrew Wright but at times the ensemble needed to get it just a bit tighter and weren't as sharp as the old Hollywood hoofers were, and if you're going to do Hollywood on the stage, you have to get the dancing down on point.

There was gallons of the wet stuff as well for the closing of the first part and again to end the show, with not much fear of getting wet as several of the rows of seats in the stalls were taken out and the stage raised, to great effect. I have it on very good authority that the "rain" starts off warm but cools off quite quickly as well.

What is there not to like in this production? It's fun, it's glitzy, there's glamour, there's comedy, some great dance routines from Hollywood, and some memorable songs like the title track, "You Stepped Out Of A Dream", "All I Do", "Moses Supposes","You Are My Lucky Star", "Good Morning" and "You Were Meant For Me".

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