Top Hat

Besides all the other things I love doing, going out to theatre is certainly up there in the top ten! And I have a bit of a thing for musicals as well. My recent outing was to see Top Hat, the first ever stage production of the 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film of the same name. I confess to having never seen the film, in fact I cannot recall having seen many ‘Fred & Ginger’ films. However this did not stop me wanting to see such a show – I love the music of Irving Berlin and the main star Tom Chambers wowed many a fan with his dancing prowess on Strictly back in 2008 (yes it was that long ago!)

Summer Strallen as Dale Tremont,Tom Chambers as Jerry Travers.

An American dancer, Jerry Travers comes to London to star in a show produced by the bumbling Horace Hardwick . While practicing a tap dance routine in his hotel bedroom, he awakens Dale Tremont  on the floor below. She storms upstairs to complain, whereupon Jerry falls hopelessly in love with her and proceeds to pursue her all over London.

Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace, who is married to her friend Madge. Following the success of Jerry’s opening night in London, Jerry follows Dale to, where she is visiting Madge and modelling/promoting the gowns created by Alberto Beddini, a dandified Italian fashion designer with a penchant for malapropisms.

Jerry proposes to Dale, who is disgusted that her friend’s husband could behave in such a manner and agrees instead to marry Alberto. Fortunately, Bates , Horace’s meddling English valet, disguises himself as a priest and conducts the ceremony; apparently, Horace had sent Bates to keep tabs on Dale.

On a trip in a gondola, Jerry manages to convince Dale and they return to the hotel where the previous confusion is rapidly cleared up. The reconciled couple dance off into the Venetian sunset, to the tune of “The Piccolino”.

The stage adaptation stuck pretty much to this and as I did not know the storyline before  I went in, it was easy to follow and enjoy the humour, the romance and the music and of course the tap dancing. There is something so enthralling and enchanting about tap dancing and seeing it all just look so smooth, sophisticated and classic.

There is so much about it to like, Horace and his butler Bates made me chuckle but then the dancing made me smile and the dresses made me want to cry, so beautifully elegant. A very good adaptation and one I am glad I have seen. The sets were amazing, so many changes and you could not see the join, from hotel lobby, to bedroom suite, to outside and then back in again.

The evening was slightly spoilt as I sat down. The lady sat behind was talking to her neighbour saying she would have a good view if the lady in front (me) did not keep her head in that position, I was talking to my mum at the time. Said lady repeated this, and so I politely turned round and informed her that I would do my best to please her. One suitably embarrassed lady who also got a very large elbow dug in her side from her husband, saying she was rude and too loud!

Sadly the lady next to my mum fell ill during the performance, I think she may have had a heart attack, she seemed to lose consciousness and then was sick. Rather in a fast slow motion if there is such a thing, I elbowed my dad out the way and ran up the aisle to get some assistance. One of the granddaughters of the poorly lady followed me probably thinking no one was helping. I have to say how professional the staff were and I give them ten out of ten with dealing with it. We were moved to other seats, as could not sit where we were, because it needed to be cleaned up and it did smell not very nice.  I continued to enjoy the show right up to the end, but it did frighten me somewhat.

The Mayflower is a very different theatre to the one in Chichester, and it certainly creates a different atmosphere and having only within the last 4 weeks seen Singin’ In The Rain at Chichester, you could tell the difference. However, the sound, lighting and the acoustics were fantastic at Top Hat and despite playing musical chairs you could hear everything clearly. Delightedly I got to see Summer Strallen, who is the sister of Scarlett Strallen who played Kathy Selden in Singin’ In The Rain, very much alike and definitely a family talent! For those who have access to London theatres, Singin’ In The Rain is transferring to the West End from Feb 2012 with the original cast from Chichester, and I highly recommend it.

Nothing theatre wise planned for next month but plenty to look forward to in 2012. There is a couple of films coming up at the cinema soon, and I have yet to share my thoughts on the recent film I saw, Jane Eyre.