Tuesday, 27 September 2016

"Singing In The Rain" by Encore Performing Arts.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
There are a few local theatre groups in and around the Nottinghamshire area who, over the last year, have been very prolific in their output, and as well as being prolific, they are prolifically excellent with the standard of their output. Encore Productions are one of these groups.
At the core of this local theatre group you have Adam Guest (director),Sam Griffiths (musical director/producer) and Siân Scattergood(choreographer). These are the first of several triple threats I'm about to mention. When these three surround themselves with layers of talent the result is an incredible ball of super talent. Andrew Bould was assistant director.
"Singing In The Rain" is Encore's fourth production within 12 months, proving that they don't shy away from a challenge.
I'm sure that everyone has seen, or at least heard of this classic Hollywood 1952 movie and the story of Hollywood's silent movie couple, Lockwood & Lamont, who if the papers and magazines are to be believed, Hollywood's answer to Posh and Becks, but it's only a celluloid image for their adoring public. Comes along the change to talking pictures and there's a problem with Ms Lamont's grating voice. When Don Lockwood takes a stroll he bumps into Kathy Selden, an aspiring actress, who just happens to have the kind of voice you, and Don, could fall in love with.... and did!. Ms Lamont though isn't going to take this love rival in her stride and the results are classic Hollywood MGM.
Mitch Gamble is our Hollywood leading man, Don Lockwood. It's Mitch's first leading romantic role, which begs the question, why has it taken so long for his good looks and voice not to have been used in a leading romantic role in the past?
Mitch has always been a bit worried about his dancing capabilities, he's told me so before, but in this role as a song and dance leading man, Mitch proved that he was every inch a song and dance man. There's a lot of it in this musical and he took it all in his stride, including the iconic "Singing In The Rain" section, complete with a stage that rained. My son, you smashed it and he even mastered the Hollywood glamour and suave of Gene Kelly. 
Lockwood's best friend is Cosmo Brown and filling the tap shoes for this role was the uber-talented triple threat, Lucas Young. This boy is still only 17 years old and can sing brilliantly, can act convincingly and boy can he dance. i know Lucas can dance but tonight he raised the bar, not just for himself, but for all the cast who had to match and keep up with him. His tap dancing is fluent and loose (that is a compliment by the way) and he does all this with ease. His comedy is natural and he's a really strong vocalist, showcased in his solo "Make 'Em Laugh".
Making up another triple threat is Lisa Ambalavanar as Kathy Selden. Oh if only I was 35 years younger and had Don Lockwoods good looks, I may have been in with a chance. Seriously,, Lisa is another wonderful dancer and what a beautiful voice to match that gorgeous face. it's hard to believe that this is Lisa's first musical and the first time that she has been on stage in nine years. Please don't leave it another nine years Lisa.
Alice Wright (Lina Lamont) was another perfect casting as the leading lady with the annoying voice. She played the role with great comic timing and I absolutely loved her.
It's a fairly big cast with some wonderful cameo roles Mike Evans (RF Simpson), the studio boss. I've seen Mike many rimes before but only on my bus home and I always thought that he looked classic actor, and should have been an actor, and guess what,,, he is an actor. Normally acting in Derbyshire, Mike's a welcome addition to the Nottingham stage.
Tom Preston, who I first saw in the ensemble of "Copacabana" in Long Eaton, and I'm sure that he won't mind me saying, he was incredibly nervous in that show, and it showed back then, but we all have to start somewhere. Tom played Roscoe Dexter here and I can truly say that he has left all nerves at the Copa. A really assured performance and it's like seeing a completely different actor tonight (I had to check that it was the same person).
A wonderful ensemble brimming with local talent providing a wonderful backdrop to the leads with dance and vocals. Sandy C LaneLucy Bailey,Rachel Barry, Rebecca Drysdale, Dan Gribbin, Harry IlykJess Lacey, Jacob Lloyd, Becky MorleyCibele Ponces Alvarenga, Sam Ward (who makes his stage debut in this show), Helen Whittle and Jess Woods.
The sets are colourful, as are the costumes. Such glamour and style. The filmed sections are wonderfully nostalgic and were filmed at Kelham Hall. The cast must've had such fun filming them.
This is a song and dance musical and Siân Scattergood must be one very proud lady with the wonderful choreography.It's always good to see classic choreography done well, and know Sian's past work, I know that she will push to get the standard she is used to and that showed tonight. So much hard graft for all the leads and the ensemble combined. Classic MGM style.
A brilliant orchestra under the musical direction of Sam Griffiths and lovingly directed by the mighty talent of Mr Adam Guest, who also clinched a couple of cameos for himself.
So many great songs here "Moses Supposes", "Good Morning", "Would You", "Fit As A Fiddle", "Make 'Em Laugh", "You Were Meant For Me" and of course the title track.
Practically perfect show, which i know will top perfect as the shows continue. For a wonderful slice of Hollywood glamour, the Nottingham Arts Theatre is the place to head for, but get there before Saturday or you may find yourself out in the rain, as opposed to inside with the rain. And on that note, long may Encore and all involved reign on the Nottinghamshire stages.

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