9-20 September 2014
Reviewed by Tammy Linsell
I remember watching the 1935 musical “Top Hat” on the black and white telly I had in my bedroom when I was aged about twelve. The film starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of course, who were firm favorites of mine. Their roles are reprised here by Alan Burkitt as Jerry Travers and Charlotte Gooch who plays Dale Tremont. Unusually, the film actually came before this West End show, which has picked up three Olivier awards and is touring the UK until July 2015.
Jerry Travers is appearing in a show produced by Horace Hardwick (Clive Hayward). He meets and falls in love with Dale Tremont who is a friend of Hardwick’s wife Madge (Rebecca Thornhill). Tremont mistakenly believes Travers to be Hardwick and therefore a married man, so the plot is one of a comedy of errors and mistaken identity. The jokes are as old as the 1935 film but still mildly amusing. Both of the leads have good singing voices as does Rebecca Thornhill. John Conroy as Bates the valet gives a fine comic performance, and I very much enjoyed Sebastien Torkia’s rendition of “Latins Know How”. Torkia takes the role of Alberto Beddini, a fashion designer, and Travers’s rival in the quest to win Dale Tremont’s affections.
As the show is based on an RKO musical one would expect to see some fine dancing, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Incredibly slick tap routines from the leads and the ensemble and enjoyable music which included, of course; “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”, “Cheek to Cheek”, and “Isn’t it a Lovely Day”.
It was apparent that there were a few technical problems. The orchestra took up their instruments on time but there was over a ten minute delay in the show starting. One of the sliding sets simply wasn’t sliding, and great credit to the cast in that it took me a long time to realise that it was ever supposed to. They continued with great professionalism. The stage management were eventually forced to close the curtains for a few minutes just before the interval in order to prepare the scene for the “Top Hat” number. Some of the audience left their seats thinking that it was the actual interval and had to be ushered back. It didn’t affect us, but because the show finished 25 or so minutes late, a couple sitting near to us had to leave early because they had a taxi booked outside.
The dancing was stunning but the parts in between a little slow at times. Other musical numbers were added to the ones I’ve already mentioned, some were in the film and others not. For me, none of them represent the best of Irving Berlin, but that’s just my personal musical taste and will not be true of everybody. Nevertheless a very enjoyable evening.
The Theatre Royal is on Grey Street in Newcastle, within a short walking distance of Eldon Square bus station. There is on street parking outside which is free after 6.30pm. If you want to park nearby it’s worth arriving early and pay to park for the last half hour and take advantage of the numerous restaurant theatre deals in the area.
Tickets cost from £18 to £39 (plus £1.45 booking fee for online transactions)
Top Hat is at the Theatre Royal Newcastle until Saturday 20 September 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 08448 112121.
Theatre Royal, 100 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6BR | 08448 112121