Being a massive fan of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers I’ll freely admit I was rather sceptical about whether I was going to enjoy seeing Top Hat on stage, I could say even if it’ll never quite live up to my beloved Fred and Ginger I have become rather fond of it, which makes a nice difference as generally I like either the stage show or the movie, rarely both!
Top Hat on Stage is a whirl of sophistication, fabulous dancing and a whole host of Irving Berlin songs, 5 from the original movie with a further 10 songs added to boost the production.
The choreography is sublime and while my favourite choreography from the movie did not make it into the stage version, what replaces it is a pleasure to watch.
Chambers is no Astaire, Fred after all was Peerless, but he does come a very close second! Whilst Strallen steps very nicely into the role of Dale, played by Ginger Rogers in the original 1935 movie, I noted with interest that aside from a couple of lines of ‘Isn’t it a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)’ and what is included in the finale, Strallen sings none of the songs from the original movie, whilst Dale in the movie sang ‘The Piccolino’ in the stage show this number is handled splendidly by the Ensemble (who incidentally are one of the best I have had the pleasure of seeing) and Vivien Parry in the role of Madge.
Parts of the stage show that stood out for me were Chambers own choreographed dance with the Hat Stand ‘Hattie’ which is reminiscent of Astaire in ‘Royal Wedding’ (1951), ‘Wild about You’ sung by Strallen to Chambers in his room in an attempt to scare him, it backfires as he ends up scaring her! And the fabulous ‘Outside of That I Love You’ performed by Martin Ball as Horace and Parry.
Any scene with Stephen Boswell as ‘Horace’s’ Valet ‘Bates’ or Ricardo Alfonso as ‘Alberto’ is worth a mention as the providers of much of the show’s comedy
The essence and magic of the 1935 film is perfectly captured by all of the ensemble as well as the fabulous leads and a trip to the Aldwych to see Top Hat on Stage should definitely be a fixture on everyone’s calendar who’s ever loved a stage musical. This one is a pure winner and deserves to run and run.
I saw it with friends yesterday as well as Anneliese and i'm happy to say that they enjoyed it almost as much as i did!
Now i can happily say roll on Venice (and Verona) where we are visiting next week, we're staying by the Lido in a 1930s style hotel, very excited!!