Chester Operatic Society, founded in 1922, become the first amateur group to perform a show on the main Storyhouse stage with their fun and uplifting version of “Singin’ in the Rain”. Set in 1920s Hollywood the well known musical charts the romance of movie star Don Lockwood and talented chorus girl Kathy Selden against the backdrop of the first talking pictures and the implications for Don’s on screen partner the siren voiced Lina Lamont (played by maths teacher Susie Lydiate).
The principal cast are excellent, the interplay between Kathy, Don and Don’s friend Cosmo being particularly appealing. Don ( Chris Wright) and Cosmo( Andrew Rawlinson Heath- recently Dandini in Tip Top’s panto) display great chemistry and vocal/physical dexterity, with the large open stage the perfect platform for their singing and dancing skills. Clever and atmospheric lighting makes the best of the limited scenery, although roll on cinema seats were cleverly used in the “show within a show” scenes. The long first half is packed with one iconic song after another. Early on, Don woos the sweet Kathy (Stacey Buckley) conducting the large chorus of the society in “You stepped out of a dream”, and later we are treated to “Make em laugh” , “Good morning” and the title track complete with real water/rain effects. The second half is much shorter and perhaps a more even spacing would have benefited the show with most of the key performances in the first half, although the second half does include a memorable solo from Lina, before the hurried conclusion and happy ending.
Some minor technical faults on the night, including microphone issues and Lina Lamont taking a tumble in the closing rain scene failed to dampen the audiences enthusiasm for this well produced and choreographed show. High praise to all the cast for their American accents as well as the costumes which evoked the period so well.
The long rehearsal period has paid off for the Society – opening night was fantastically well received and everyone left the theatre with a smile on their face. We can only hope that in the future amateur groups like the Operatic Society get the chance to showcase their talent again in our fantastic new theatre space!
For more information on the society see http://www.chesteroperatic.co.uk/home