I don’t think this generation has experienced such an iconic cultural reset moments that Tom Holland during his performance on lip-sync battle. For those who have not seen this video, Tom graces the stage in a classic suit and tie and begins to demonstrate the most elegant and smooth tap inspired dance moves only for the music to suddenly change to Rhianna’s “under my umbrella.” As the music transitions, Tom goes from the suave suit into a very sensual corset and showcases a much more sassy style of dance which we don’t usually see from the Spider-Man actor. Obviously going into the show we were all aware of the fact that Tom is a very talented dancer (through his starring role of Billy Elliot when he was younger) but the theatrics and draginess were totally unexpected! This number helped him claim the win over his now partner Zendeya who did a respectful rendition of Bruno Mars 24K magic. A little unknown fact about myself is that a few years ago I started attending tap dance lessons in my local dance school. I never realised before starting these classes how intense and physically exhausting how tap as a dance form can be. I went in thinking that as most of the movement happens with just your feet then you would be that tired by the end… but I could not have been more wrong! Every lesson left me in a puddle of sweat and had my brain in overdrive trying to recall the movements/sections of routines we had looked at. As time progressed the lessons did get slightly easier and I was able to complete a graded exam, a dance show and be a part of a world record attempt all throughout the medium of tap!
Being a musical theatre fan who is learning to tap there are obviously constant conversations around one Gene Kelly and his contribution to the world of tap through the iconic 1952 musical romantic comedy ‘singing in the rain’ so you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that the show would be arriving at the Wales Millennium Centre. Taking on the mammoth role made famous by the tap dancing extraordinaire Gene Kelly was the wonderfully talented Sam Lips as Don Lockwood(Broadway credits including Cats, Chicago, west side story etc ..) who didn’t seem at all fazed by filling these massive tap shoes. As expected the highlight performance from this lead character was the titular song “Singin in the rain.’ The pressure of having one solo dancer having to command the stage on his own would be too much for me so it is insanely impressive that this dancer was able to hold the audience’s attention throughout. I think one think that really helped to keep the audience on the edge of their seat throughout was the inclusion of bucket loads of rain. As the song suggests this number is performed in the rain which was staged perfectly by the creative team behind this project. Not only does our performer have sole control of the audience’s attention but also must do it while being flooded with rain from above. The buckets of water pouring pooled in the centre of the stage and Sam was able to elegant exaggerate his dance movements to splash the crowd below which was met with cheers every time it happened. Alongside Sam was the amazing Kevin Clifton (from strictly come dancing) as Don’s closest friend Cosmo Brown. What I enjoyed most about Kevin’s performance in this show was how clear it was that Kevin was having fun performing in this lore comedic role. His big number “Make them Laugh” was a hilarious number that saw this actor such off his high-energy endurance as he darted across the stage taking part in a series of classic slapstick comedy gags which were a spectacle to watch. Both Kevin and Sam seemed to share a wonderful bond with one another which shone through the more jovial sequences within the show! These two performance joined a speech coach to perform the song “Moses Supposes” which was a wonderful exaggeration of some of the common annunciation techniques. Don and Cosmo showcase their incredible tap skill while trying to mimic the elegance and absurdity of these lessons which was hilarious and impressive in equal regard!
The highlight performance within this show for me would be Jenny Gayner who takes on the role of the esteemed Lina Lamont. Lina is a celebrated silent movie star who is forced to adapt to speaking films which is a narrative explored by many period pieces including the most recent Downton Abbey movie! The character becomes infamous for her incredibly unique voice that would not translate well to speaking films. Jenny was able to keep up the grating squeaky voice every time she was on stage which is no easy feat! Her solo performance of “what’s wrong with me” took the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. The number begins with the pseudo-Villian expressing how she feels how she has failed as a woman and an actor by being unloved. The song began by building sympathy towards the character but towards the end, it turns into an attack on the male character claiming that there must be something wrong with him instead!
Overall people may come to see this show based on the dance spectacle of the original movie while still acknowledging its roots without coming across dates. This show delivers on the theatrics side including a wonderful demonstration during that iconic rain scene. I would rate this musical 4.5 out of 5 stars!