Thursday, 9 July 2015

REVIEW: Top Hat at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Based on the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic film, Top Hot tap dances its way to Woking on the latest stop of a UK tour. Recent Olivier award recipients for choreography (amongst others) expectations were high.

The farcical story follows the blossoming romance between Broadway star Jerry Travers and the gorgeous Dale Tramont and the chaos of mistaken identity that sees the story hop from the US, London and Italy.

This was a show were the movement was central to it and this certainly didn’t disappoint. The ensemble worked tirelessly throughout, performing with impeccable timing and enviable energy. A full throttle opening tap number contrasted with slower, more intimate numbers ensured this long production kept a good pace.

Lead performers Alan Burkitt (Jerry) and Charlotte Gooch (Dale) were excellent throughout showing off an impressive array of dance moves, strong vocals and perfect comic timing. John Conroy got plenty of laughs as long-suffering servant Bates while Madge played by Rebecca Thornhill brought some much needed grit and strength to the characters.

The production values were typically lavish and sumptuous as you’d expect for a theatrical remake of a Hollywood classic but the lack of tangible plot made this production feel overwhelmingly flat. By the end of Act 1 the audience were not really sure what was worth coming back for as there was no drama or cliff-hanger to care about.  Characters such as Alberto were neither comedic nor nasty enough to be an audience favourite or villain and because of this his “marriage” to Dale was a bolt of the blue and completely unbelievable.

While performed by a talented dancer and singer, the character of Jerry Travers was more irritating than likeable. This meant you couldn’t root for the lead and had no real relationship or plot to invest in. Simply, you didn’t care if Jerry and Dale got together or not.

Numbers such as “Cheek to Cheek” and “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” aside were forgettable and similar in sound, again leaving the overall production flat and insipid. It was a shame to waste the talent of this large cast on a dated and boring show which never really gets going and certainly never dazzles.

Review by Andy Edmeads 


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