Top Hat – review | Musicals | The Guardian

The nostalgia market will get an additional enhance with the arrival of this amiable stage model of the celebrated Astaire-Rogers 1935 RKO musical. The night could be rapidly summed up as “nice songs, daft ebook”; and one merely waits patiently for the subsequent Irving Berlin quantity or elegant dance routine to return alongside which, fortunately, they do with cheap frequency.

The film unique was truly based mostly on a play co-written by one Alexander Farago; and that appears the correct surname for the writer of a foolish story that manages to make a single gag about mistaken id final a whole night. The plot hinges on the truth that a sleek mannequin, Dale Tremont, erroneously believes that her ardent pursuer, Jerry Travers, is married to a buddy of hers. Movies and performs have maybe been spun round slighter premises, however what makes this peculiarly idiotic is that Travers is a fabled Broadway star about to open in a giant London present. You’d have thought that even a mannequin might need learn the papers.

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Escapism, nonetheless, is the secret and Matthew White and Howard Jacques, who’ve tailored the film for the stage, do an honest job in trimming the longueurs and retaining the wisecracks coming. “Is there no starting to your abilities?” the heroine waspishly asks of the assiduously dancing hero. A wife-dominated producer additionally tells him: “A person is incomplete till he is married – after that he is completed.” And, if that has a dated misogynist ring, that’s in step with a interval piece wherein all foreigners are routinely humorous and all servants and theatrical dressers recommend camp is on the verge of being struck.

However the piece survives on the imperishable Berlin songs and the allure of the performers. The good power of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers was that his aristocratic lightness discovered an ideal foil in her strong earthiness. And, even if you cannot match the unique, Tom Chambers and Summer season Strallen right here do a sterling job. As a former winner of Strictly Come Dancing, Chambers is just not solely personable and lightweight on his ft however makes it look as if he actively enjoys Puttin’ On The Ritz or gliding round Cheek to Cheek. And Strallen has an analogous sleek ease and attractiveness, and is seductively humorous in a quantity Wild About You, the place she wraps her lengthy legs spherical his keen torso.

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Matthew White’s manufacturing additionally retains the motion shifting, Hildegard Bechtler’s units have a lovely artwork deco look to them, and Invoice Deamer’s choreography is at its ingenious greatest in Berlin’s catchy, cod-Venetian quantity The Piccolino. The 2 leads are gamely supported by Ricardo Afonso as an explosive Latin dressmaker who comes out with language-mangling phrases like “Why not face the musicians now?”, and by Martin Ball as a mildly philandering and barely effete theatrical producer.

It is all completely nice and one can by no means hear too usually Berlin requirements like Is not This a Pretty Day To Be Caught within the Rain? I simply hope the way forward for the musical does not reside in infinite revivals of Hollywood’s golden oldies and that someday we will encounter once more a brand new musical based mostly on an unique thought. Gilt-edged escapism is all very effectively in its means but it surely does not take the style any additional forwards.

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