Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Nottingham Theatre Royal

The musical is based on the 1935 film of the same name with music by Irving Berlin and it is so good to see that the producers have decided to stay true to the original.

Set in the same year as the film was made, 1935 and is the story of Jerry Travers, an American dancer, played in the film by Fred Astaire and in this touring production by Alan Burkitt. Travers travels to London to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick (Clive Hayward), Travers meets and attempts to impress Dale Tremont (Charlotte Gooch) to win her affection.Dale mistakes Jerry for her friend's husband, Horace, but after some comical interaction with Madge Hardwick, Jerry and dress designer Alberto Beddini, who she agreed to marry, it all comes good in the end and she weds Jerry and they all live happily ever after.

Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch recreate the glamorous choreography of Astaire and Rogers, with Charlotte performing some pretty impressive high kicks which highlighted those wonderful long legs of hers.

Burkitt, albeit fairly unknown, shone through every scene, and a worthy replacement for Tom Chambers who performed from 2011 to early 2014.

Some great comedy lines woven throughout the show and a brilliant comedy performance from John Conroy, who played Bates, Hardwick's man servant, who took on several different guises throughout the musical.

Another comedy character is Beddini, the dress designer who fell for Dale and proposed marriage to her at her lowest ebb. Beddini was played by Sebastien Torkia.

Glamour was everywhere and there were some amazing costumes on show for the ladies and dinner jackets for the men. And boy did those costumes look great on Rebecca Thornhill (Madge Hardwick) and Charlotte. The costumes were designed by Jon Morrell.

Not only were the costumes amazing, but so were the sets, reflecting the decadence of the 1930's jet set and designed by Hildegard Bechtler. It was just like watching one of those extravagant Hollywood films where no expense was ever spared. Glamour, glitz, suave sophistication, and oh, the dance routines. If you remember having a kaleidoscope as a kid and looking into it and seeing a perfect replica of the one image, all performing the same moves at the same time, well this was just like the dancing for "Top Hat". So tight and perfectly performed by the large ensemble. a tribute to the brilliant choreography of Bill Deamer.

Smooth scene changes which also gave way to scenes of the aeroplane flight, as well as the plane landing, and the imagery of split screen where you can see not only Travers dancing at front of stage but the image of him being in the apartment above at the same time which caused the lovely Dale to first meet Travers due to his dancing keeping her awake. All very clever!

What I also loved was the way the orchestra and the arrangements seemed to creep up on you, complementing the singing, making the music mix sound spot on, a great job done by the man with the magic baton, Chris Walker, who also arranged all of the beautiful music.

So many brilliant Irving Berlin songs are featured in this show, "Puttin On The Ritz", "Putting All My Eggs In One Basket", :Isn't This A Lovely Day"."Top Hat White Tie and Tails", "Cheek To Cheek" and "Let's Face The Music And Dance" being just a few.

So, for an evening of top class entertainment, top dancing, top tunes and top fun, go and see "Top Hat" at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 15 November 2014

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