Featuring more dancing than a single episode of Strictly Come Dancing, this sophisticated musical is reaching the end of its current UK tour – with as much energy and enthusiasm as I have ever seen in a musical before.
Set in 1935, Top Hat tells the story of Jerry Travers who makes his way to Europe to try and win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont. In order to tell the story there is plenty of beautiful choreography by Bill Deamer and of course classic songs by Irving Berlin.
The main focus of the show of course is the dancing – could it live up to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers standards? Well it certainly knocks any concerns you might have about that in several sequences throughout the show such as the stunning Cheek to Cheek and Let’s Face the Music and Dance.
Although all of those in the cast have a strong talent for dancing, much of the credit should go to Alan Burkitt (Jerry) , who is so light footed throughout he makes it look easy and is certainly a confident performance. But the way in which he dances also reflects the character he is playing as well – confident, charming and knows exactly how to put a smile on your face.
He is well matched with Charlotte Gooch’s Dale – who can come across as slightly stuck up but with just enough hint of vulnerability to make her likeable. While her dancing perhaps isn’t as captivating as Burkitt’s it is still elegant and a pleasure to watch.
But there is brilliant support from the rest of the cast as well. Sebastian Torkia as the proud and vain Alberto might seem overplayed and stereotypical at times but provides some lovely comedy moments. While Rebecca Thornhill as Madge and Clive Hayward as Horace provides many laughs as the arguing married couple.
The set and costumes really transport you to the 1930’s, capturing the era perfectly with enough space and fluidity to the costumes to allow the dance sequences to flow easily and capture the imagination and attention of the audience.
Some might find the humour and plot slightly obvious and you can tell what is going to happen a mile off but if you take Top Hat as it is you won’t fail to leave without either singing a song from the show or attempting to tap dance you way back to the car park (or both as I did). It is a charming and elegant production – filled with a whole lot of talent.