Singin’ in the Rain turns 70: How the musical’s legacy lives on

It’s the 70th anniversary of the release of “Singin’ in the Rain”, one of the most iconic musicals of all time.

Directed by and starring the one and only Gene Kelly, Singin’ in the Rain remains one of the most beloved musicals on Hollywood screens.

Just say the name and people might start humming the tune from the title track. It’s contagious.

On stage and on screen

Since the film’s debut in 1952, it has remained on critics’ lists as one of the best films of all time and inspired a stage adaptation that toured the US and UK.

In the current stage adaptation, which is touring the UK and extended to Sadlers Wells Theater in London, the iconic Sing in the rain stage uses a record 6,000 liters of water. It guarantees a splash zone for the front row seats at least.

Euronews Culture met one of the current stars of British show business, Charlotte Gooch, who plays love interest Kathy Selden.

“I’ve always been such a fan of films from that era, when the opportunity came up to play Kathy, I jumped on it,” she commented, noting the timelessness of the original film.

“You find that in your mind, that iconic image of Gene Kelly swinging with an umbrella – because who really sings and dances in the rain? – there’s something so escapist and magical about it. It sticks with everyone,” she says.

“These images and this music, we never forget them.”

An iconic piece

The film is famous for its singing and dancing numbers that pushed actors Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds to the limit. However, while Kelly and O’Connor were seasoned dancers, Reynolds had never danced before.

“Debbie Reynolds was so perfect for the role that Gene Kelly said he would teach her how to dance,” Gooch explains.

“It was so hard for her and because they filmed the ‘Good Morning’ scene over 40 times, she ended up with her feet bleeding inside her slides.”

“But you would never know because looking at her, she’s perfect. They were great shoes to put on,” Gooch says, reflecting on the original actor for his part.

Debbie Reynolds herself said of the role, “The two hardest things I’ve ever done in my life are childbirth and Singin’ in the Rain.”

A timeless classic

Originally conceived as a way to showcase producer Arthur Freed’s established catalog of songs, the film was a rarity at the time as a musical that wasn’t originally based on a Broadway hit.

Although it was not immediately a smash hit at the box office with modest ticket sales, the film made its way into everyone’s hearts.

“Even when I watch it now, my reaction is still the same,” Gooch says. “I love escapism, romance, showbiz and heartbreak. There’s a story for everyone and for every era.

In his book, “The Movie Musical!” Jeanine Basinger accepted. “Love it or hate it (and few do), overstate it or understate it, the 1952 film is a perfect musical yardstick.”

“For people who don’t like musicals, it’s still a very funny comedy. For those who don’t want comedy, there’s a charming romance. For people who think romance is sappy, there’s the humorously handled story of the transition to sound in the film. And for those who want a musical, there are old tunes and new tunes and great performers to present them.

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