Ryedale Youth Theatre

in association with Kirkham Henry Performing Arts

25th Anniversary Production

“Singin’ in the Rain”


Milton Rooms, April 6-9th, 2016

When I heard that Ryedale Youth Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Show was going to be “Singin’ in the Rain” I wondered how on earth they were going to stage it in the Milton Rooms. I needn’t have worried. This all singing, all dancing and yes, very rainy production is full of exciting choreography, magnificent costumes and superb singing and dancing all of which left the audience calling for more.

From the opening scenes where we are introduced to Don Lockwood (Ollie Fearn), Cosmo Brown (Ben Greenhough) and Kathy Selden (Beth Armstrong) the show moves along at a rollicking pace. As the story unfolds and we meet Lina Lamont (Hannah Richardson) – she of the beautiful face and terrible voice; R F Simpson (Adam Peel) the owner of Monumental Pictures and director Roscoe Dexter (Mathew Hodsman-Summers), we are drawn into their problem of how to salvage their silent movie ‘The Duelling Cavalier’ and change it into a “talkie” now that talking pictures are all the rage.  But change it they do – and on the way we enjoy some wonderful entertainment.  Don, Cosmo and Kathy work out the best way, although they take all night to do so (cue song “Good Morning”) – and along the way Don and Kathy fall head over heels in love.  This leads us nicely to the show’s title song “Singin’ in the Rain” – and what a tour de force it was for Ollie Fearn as he sang, danced, splashed his way through this routine which has ingrained itself into the heart of cinema goers the world over.  The rain fell, and for once we all cheered.

This is a show full of superlatives: the split second timing and syncopation of “Moses Supposes” featuring Don, Ollie, ensemble and a fine cameo performance by Ellen Longworth as an elocution teacher was a joy to watch.  Poor Lina (Hannah Richardson) asks us “What’s Wrong with Me?” and gives us a wonderful comic and vocal performance as her voice grates like fingernails on a blackboard – definitely a case of having to be able to do it right in order to get it so hysterically wrong. The choreography (by show Director, Angela Kirkham and Ali Kirkham) was outstanding.  So many different styles of dance; beautiful ballet sequences, thundering tap dances, poignant solos, and high-energy solos (“Make ’em Laugh) The costumes were stunning (thanks to Wardrobe Mistress Yvonne Young and the amazing “feathers” loaned by Ali Kirkham) – so many beautiful outfits and styles for the dances and authentic clothes for the “normal” scenes. The set was inventive and scenes were changed completely unobtrusively.  The seven piece band, under the Musical Director Chris Hocking, and vocals in the care of Musical Choral Director Martin Dixon ensured that all the songs, both solos and full company, were first class.

Ryedale Youth Theatre is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Performance with this show – and this fabulous production would grace any major stage. The four leads, Ollie Fearn, Beth Armstrong, Ben Greenhough and Hannah Richardson are – to paraphrase a line from the show ‘a triple threat, CAN act, CAN dance and CAN sing’ – and they do them all amazingly well. The finale, in the pouring rain, with Don, Kathy and Cosmo and the whole cast in their yellow waterproofs, yellow wellies and colourful umbrellas all “just singin’ and dancin’ in the rain” was a complete triumph and I – and the audience – just didn’t want it to end.  I just don’t know how they’re going to follow that – but I do know they will and that I’m already looking forward to show number 26.

Ann Marie Gatford