19.30 (14.30 matinees, wed, thur, sat)
£14 – £41.50
I don’t think there have been enough superlatives invented to describe the sheer quality of this modern-day adaption of the 1935 smash-hit comedy musical, Top Hat. Eight decades ago, the world witnessed Fred Astaire & Ginger Baker take on the roles of Jerry Travers & Dale Tramont. Jerry is an American singer-dancer whisked off to London by a certain Horace Hardwick, after which we enter a world of flirtation, killer gags, & mistaken identity on a Shakesperean scale.
Last year, the show won several awards at the Laurence Olivier awards, & I’m not surprised at all. Top Hat combines comic dialogue, scintillating tap-dance routines, & mesmerizing music written by Irving Berlin; a joyful jumpy ride through the music of the 1930’s jazz-hangover, including classic songs such as ‘Putting on the Ritz,’ ‘Cheek-to-cheek’ & the infinitely catchy ‘I’m putting all my eggs on one basket.’
Alan Burkitt is a revelation as Jerry Travers, an immensely watchable dancer with a wondrous American twang to his voice. Charlotte Gooch, as Dale Tramont, is a bonnie complement & there is indeed a crackling energy between them. The rest of the cast are all top notch, especially Sebastian Torkkia as Alberto Beddini, a classic Italian caricature straight from the tradition of commedia Dell’arte.
The classy Festival Theatre is a perfect host for Top Hat, bringing what is clearly the best musical for miles around to the good people of Auld Reekie. It also gives our modern audience a chance to see this old black & white story illuminated in glorious technicolor sweeping across an excellent array of backdrops, props & hat-tops. Its a long show – over two and a half hours – including an epic final flourish of bows & reprises. But that was more-than-fine with me as I was glued to my seat in wonder. I really wish I could give the show more than these FIVE STARS.
Reviewer – Damo Bullen