REVIEW: Singin’ In The Rain, Chichester Festival Theatre, until September 10.

Outside the rain was pouring down. Inside they were singin’ in it - a glorious spectacle on a great night for Chichester Festival Theatre, the night its summer came alive.

Wednesday, 6th July 2011, 11:02 pm

After the disappointing Rosencrantz, the CFT is back to its brilliant best with a simply ravishing production of the only musical possible just at the moment, Singin’ In The Rain.

CFT artistic director Jonathan Church orchestrates it all to perfection - so much so that you can’t help wondering whether he’s to blame for the weather as well.

Mind you, it wasn’t any drier inside, the cast pulling off a dazzling finale in which you really wouldn’t have wanted to be sitting in the front row - a great moment which crowns a night full of fun, huge colour, wonderful songs and superb choreography.

It’s not a huge-name cast, which leaves ample scope for the show to be its own star, the product of terrific performances all round - particularly from Katherine Kingsley as

Lina Lamont, the screechy-voiced starlet whose career threatens to die the death when the talkies shove aside the silent movies.

Stroppy and sulky, Lina is beautifully played by Kingsley as a scheming minx desperately clinging on to her fading career, swimming against the tide, bereft of all the talents that count.

Her solo What’s Wrong With Me? is terrific; her comic timing impeccable.

Inevitably, beside her, Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden are distinctly less colourful creations, but Adam Cooper and Scarlett Strallen respectively announce the new order in style, the only slight niggle perhaps being that Cooper’s singing is so clearly second to his superb dancing.

But that hardly matters in an overall package so beautifully delivered, so full of wit and so splendid to look at and listen to. No detail is spared in a masterclass in musicals.

And just to show who’s boss, it tipped it down on stage even more heavily than it was tipping it down in the car park - impressive staging on a night which will have us smiling all summer long, whatever the weather throws at us.

Phil Hewitt