“Make em laugh”, sings Cosmo Brown. Smart chap, that one. It would be easy to write off
Now in its 31st year, the continued success of this delightful West End musical hit might have something to do with the fact that a) there’s a decent script involved, and b) it really does make us laugh. A lot, actually.
The story of a silent film star, Don Lockwood, whose time at the top comes under threat from both the introduction of “talkies”, and the incessant, diva-like behaviour of his leading lady, Lina Lamont,
Fearful of being left behind, the big chiefs at Monumental Pictures’ set about making their own talkie,
A test screening proves disastrous, so Don and his piano-playing best mate, Cosmo, enlist an aspiring actress named Kathy Selden (whom Don is in love with) to do the heavy lifting, i.e. record Lina’s dialogue and vocals. Yep, they’re going to make their movie a musical. They’ve only six weeks to do it, and Lina hates Kathy - however, will they pull this off?
At 140 minutes,
James Leece and Amy Ellen Richardson make for a fine Don and Kathy, and the former does a cracking job when it comes to that all-important street dance. But it’s Vicky Binns (Lina) and Stephane Anelli (Cosmo) that stand out. Binns has tremendous fun with her deluded screen siren, and Anelli’s athletic turn as the film’s musical director isn’t just flawless - it’s a show-stealer. It really does rain on that stage, too. And yes, there is a fair amount of splashing involved. Best of luck to those seated in the front row.