The glorious 1935 film TOP HAT with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers has finally come to London’s West End. After 77 years, this is the first time a stage version of TOP HAT has ever been produced. It is a giddy, glorious celebration of 1930s song and dance, featuring magnificent sets and over 200 costumes.
The music and lyrics by Irvin Berlin, feature some of his greatest hits including Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Cheek to Cheek, Putting on the Ritz and of course, Top Hat. Plotwise this musical comedy centres on the theme of mistaken identity. Jerry Travers, played by Tom Chambers, is the chief victim of the farcical situations that occur when Miss Dale Tremont, portrayed by Summer Strallen, with whom he has fallen in love, believes him to be the husband of a recently married friend she has not yet met. The deception persists throughout most of the play until the mistake is realised and a happy ending is guaranteed.
Strictly Come Dancing fans will be impressed with the charming Tom Chambers’, playing Jerry Travers, stunning acting, singing and dancing skills. His tap dancing is superb. He certainly proves to be much more than an actor. He seemingly enjoyed playing the role as I watched him smiling during all the dance routines. It has to be emphasized that the delightful and funny dance of Tom Chambers with the hat stand is choreographed by Tom himself. Summer Strallen, beautiful in all her costumes, plays her character brilliantly, sings beautifully and dances as if on clouds and it looks classy, light and easy. There are lots of one liners, jokes and laughs throughout the musical. The funny character of Alberto Beddini, the clichéd foreigner, is played by Ricardo Afonso who is fantastic and even though he really just loves himself he is very lovable with his Italian accent and slighty mixed up and, therefore, amusing sayings. Horace and Madge Hardwick, played by Martin Ball and Vivian Parry are very strong characters and it would never be as humorous without them and their jokes about marriage. Last but not least Horace’s butler, Bates played by Stephen Boswell is unique and well portrayed. The perfect butler with attitude but very loyal to his boss.
The talented ensemble round the picture up, they carry the stage changes through and complement the individual dancers and singers perfectly. The costumes are 30s style with men in top hats and ties and the ladies in beautifully flowing dresses which make watching the dances a feast for the eyes. The 15 men and women in the orchestra also played the famous numbers wonderfully and must get a special mention. The whole team performed so well together.
It is a bubbly, swinging musical, set in the 1930’s, brilliantly performed by a talented cast. It has charm and class and for those who love the glamour and glitz of the 1930s, flowing dance routines and fabulous music, this show is perfect for you. One cannot sit still, or even stop oneself humming to the well known numbers. It wants you to be part of the cast, tapping along…..or is that just me?
I certainly recommend this show for a light hearted, cheerful evening out, probably complemented by a dinner beforehand.