Reviewed by Catherine Brown
Present Company are currently staging the Cole Porter musical ‘High Society’ at Derby Theatre. Based on the play ‘Philadelphia Society’ this fabulous show is full of laughs and high jinks.
Set on Long Island, NYC Tracey Lord (Rachel-Louisa Bray) is about to marry dull but safe George Kitteridge (Philip de Voil) in the society wedding of the year. This is much to the dismay of her petulant younger sister Dinah, who would prefer to see Tracey reconcile with ex-husband Dexter who has just sailed in on his yacht True Love. Absent-minded Uncle Willy is hosting a party the night before along with Tracey’s mother Margaret who also has mixed feelings about the nuptials.
Gate-crashing the event are snooping reporters Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie, who have been tasked to dish the dirt on Tracey’s wayward father, thought to have had an affair with a dancer. When all the guests, and even the staff, have far too much champagne to drink this leads to some very farcical events including a dip in the pool. Subsequently the morning after the night before, nobody is quite sure if the wedding is going to go ahead…
Cole Porter’s musical numbers including Let’s Misbehave, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and Well, Did You Ev’ah? are sung brilliantly by the talented cast. Particular praise should go to Rachel-Louisa Bray who has the challenging task of singing and dancing while having to appear drunk! Dinah Lord played by Madison Naylor also did an excellent job delivering humorous quips at just the right time.
Derby Theatre, previously Derby Playhouse, re-opened in 2009 under the ownership of Derby University. It has a 535 seat auditorium with comfy seats and excellent views of the stage wherever you sit. It is easy to travel to and parking is available at the INTU shopping centre. The staff at the theatre were very welcoming and there were a good selection of drinks at the bar which we were able to be pre-order for the interval.
Following the show I had the pleasure of talking with artistic director Jean Gemmell, who has been putting on productions at both Derby Theatre and Buxton Opera House for over 30 years. Present Company aim to put on at least 2 shows a year and have a small but talented cast who are very proud of their longevity.
I would give the show a 5/5 rating – Present Company put on a wonderful performance and I look forward to seeing more of their future work.
Tickets cost from £14 to £19 (booking fees may apply).
High Society is at Derby Theatre from 31 August to 2 September 2018, for more information or book tickets visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 593939.
Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF | 01332 593939