Kicking off it’s UK tour in Wimbledon is Irving Berlins 1935 musical Top Hat (which originally starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers in their most successful film together).
In 2011, the hit film was adapted for the West End stage and after a brief UK tour, opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre starring Summer Strallen and Tom Chambers. The show played for a year and a half and won three Olivier Awards. Now Top Hat is back! Tap dancing it’s way around the UK on a year long tour. I loved the West End production and so I snapped up some tickets to go and indulge myself once again in this new production at the New Wimbledon Theatre.
In the story we see Broadway star Jerry Travers flown to London to appear in producer Horace Hardwicks new show spectacular. Jerry falls for Dale Tremont who is staying in the same hotel as him and they start a whirlwind romance. A misunderstanding leads Dale to believe that Jerry is already married and that his intentions aren’t true. Meanwhile, producer Horace and his wife Madge struggle to celebrate their third wedding anniversary without killing each other. Will the two lovers realise their mistake or will they miss their chance to be together forever?
With well known classics such as ‘Putting On The Ritz’ and ‘Let’s Face The Music and Dance’ Top hat is one of those shows that you know better than you might think! The show is musically beautiful and visually stunning with dancing that you could watch forever. My favourite song has always been the lovers quarrel ‘Outside of that I Love You’ sung by Madge and Horace. It’s a brilliant moment of comedy and something anyone who has ever been in love can empathise with.
The wonderful thing about this touring production is seeing how many of the original west end cast members have returned. It was great to see West End Jerry Travers understudy, Alan Burkitt, playing the leading role this time around and Charlotte Gooch returning to the role of Dale Tremont. Clive Hayward also reprises his role as the comedic Horace Hardwick. Rebecca Thornhill originally struck me as a little too young to play Madge Hardwick but won me over as the show went on.
The staging and set looked identical to the West End production which for the most-part is beautiful. There are a couple of scenes I never really appreciated in the show visually. One on a horse and cart and another on an aeroplane. For such a spectacular looking show, I felt the set pieces used for these scenes let the production down slightly.
I don’t believe anyone could go to see Top Hat and not have a great time. There is something there for everyone and even if you don’t love old fashioned musicals, this is something not to be missed.
Catch them tap dancing into a town near you soon! For full details on where you can see Top Hat visit www.tophatonstage.com
Reviewed by West End Wilma