Friday, 20 April 2012
Top Hat in the 21st Century
Well I went and watched Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End last night, unfortunately with being such a big fan of Ginger and Fred what i forgot to take with me was a clear mind and so while i enjoyed what they have done with bringing Top Hat to the stage I kept comparing it to the movie and I didn't like it quite so much, of course i kept comparing the leads in the show to Ginger and Fred, which perhaps is a little unfair i couldn't expect anyone to match them afterall :)
They have added additional songs to the Stage Version, i found this ironic as Fred originally said of the script that it called for him to do nothing but Dance, Dance, Dance and the stage version calls for the character of Jerry to do hardly anything but!
Added Numbers include Puttin on the Ritz (this is the updated version that Fred performed in Blue Skies (1946)), set in New York before moving to London, i guess to reassure the audience that Jerry is actaully a big star in the United States!
The show then moves to London (as per the film) where after No Strings, 'I'm Puttin All My Eggs In One Basket' has been added, after Isn't This A Lovely Day (to be caught in the rain) 'Easy to Dance With' has been added, sung by 'Dale' i found is kinda odd because the only version i'd heard prior to last night was Fred singing it to Virginia Dale in 'Holiday Inn' (1942) but it was pretty good.
Also added to Act 1 (London) was 'What is Love'
In Act 2, they changed songs around so the Esemble opened with the Piccolino (i think this is where my dislike of the changes really started) Then came 'Dale' singing 'Wild About You' which was the first real indication that this was Top Hat for the 21st Century!
After this came Cheek to Cheek, followed by 'Dale' singing 'Better Luck Next Time' (from Easter Parade (1948)) Unfortunately while the person playing Dale was a pretty good singer she can't match Judy Garland who sang the song in Easter Parade and there were a couple of notes that weren't quite in her range :/ But unless you knew the song it's not something you'd likely notice (first preview night nerves i guess!)
We then got the guy playing 'Alberto' singing 'Latin's Know How' here i really did cringe (although it was hilarious) and was definitely the 2nd real indication that this is Top Hat for the 21st Century as he lost most of his clothing along the way.
Where The Piccolino number is in the movie, in the stage show 'Lets Face The Music and Dance' had been added instead, i have to admit it did work pretty well :) After that came 'Outside of That I Love You' a number inserted for 'Madge and Horace'
That pretty much brought the end, pretty much the same as the end of the movie, except 'Dale' then reprised 'I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basked' and then came the finale with most of the songs being reprised by the entire cast.
Despite everything I did really enjoy the show, especially the music, the orchestra pit allowed enough room so that sitting in the front row of the stalls didn't mean having to look up as far as i had feared!!
I think if i were to see the show again (and i definitely hope too) then i'd remember to take a clear mind! The people playing Madge, Horace, Bates and Beddini made a great supporting cast (plus the ensemble) the guy playing Bates was especially brilliant
I did like the actors who played Jerry and Dale, good dancers! But the real magic of Top Hat was missing for me (i need to watch the movie for them!!)
Astaire said, 'I don't make Love by Kissing, I Make Love by Dancing' in the stage show there are a number of kisses but i still didn't feel that anyone was making love to anyone else lol
The programme had some fantastic photos of Fred and Ginger together including
They also had a great shot of the set of The Piccolino, i have similar shots but not the exact one on my laptop, can't find it on google either :/
The Cheek to Cheek number was interesting, the dress worn in the stage show was peach and was also shedding "feathers" by the looks of it it was similar to the "feathers" on Judy Garland's dress in the number in Easter Parade.
The couple sitting next to me and my sister just happened to be from Boston! They talked to us about why we'd come to see and I explained that I was a massive fan of Ginger and Fred and mentioned the exhibition (only 3 weeks since i was there, feels so much longer :(.) which was when they mentioned that they came from Boston, they're going home in June and said that they hope to visit the exhibition providing its still on so that was pretty sweet!!
I would recommend Top Hat on Stage to anyone who's lucky enough to be visiting London, but take an open mind! (next time i'll remember mine!!)
I got a hooded sweatshirt after the show with Top Hat on it and was lucky enough to be able to say well done to a couple of members of the cast including the guy who played Bates, but sadly no autographs and the party upstairs was private, although i did ask!