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REVIEW: Singin' in The Rain at the Mill at Sonning

Siobhan Newman

REVIEW: Singin' in The Rain at the Mill at Sonning

It’s cold outside and rainin’ inside the Mill this winter but the theatre’s new show is pure sunshine.

This joyful production of Singin’ In The Rain is an imaginatively staged version of the much-loved 1952 movie and the talented young cast bring lashings of brio to the Hollywood fairytale.

Suitably, this staging makes use of film, beginning with a modern girl scrolling on her mobile to search old movies, we see what she’s watching projected on a backdrop.

The story starts with matinee idol Don Lockwood and his leading lady Lina Lamont arriving for the premiere of their latest silent flick. The gossip columnists and commentators long for a romance between the two, but Don – and his old vaudeville pal Cosmo – are happier making fun of humourless Lina.

When Don meets aspiring actress Kathy Seldon, sparks start to fly. 

As the characters struggle with Lina’s jealousy and the studio’s wobbly transition to talking pictures, can the seed of Don and Kathy’s romance grow and blossom?

Well, it’s certainly watered enough. 

The famous Singin’ In The Rain scene sees 1,000 litres showered on the stage and Philip Bertioli has tremendous fun swingin’ off lampposts and kicking up his heels – the audience adored it (luckily the front rows are given waterproofs).

I loved the 1920s-style costumes, the choreography (Make ’Em Laugh with Brendan Cull as Cosmo was a particular favourite) and the energy.

You can see the jealousy and triumph flickering over Sammy Kelly’s mobile face as Lina Lamont – she’s wonderful to watch – and Rebecca Jayne-Davies has the voice and sweetness perfect for Kathy.

The beautiful old Mill is quite dinky, it seats just 217, but this show feels huge, from the cast of 14 to the live band to the ambitious staging, for example a big followspot was lifted to the back of the auditorium to spolight the leads for the final scene. It’s strong on scope as well as heart.

I overheard one lady saying to a staff member: 

“‘That’s the best show I’ve ever seen.”

 Her companion cautiously added: “Well, it’s the best show I’ve ever seen here.”

Which gave me one more laugh on an evening awash with joy.

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