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Theatre Review: Top Hat - Aldwych Theatre, London ✭✭✭✭

Top Hat
Aldwych Theatre

Thursday 10th May: Following a 17 week UK tour and seventy seven years after its movie release, Top Hat has landed at the Aldwych Theatre. With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and based on the RKO motion picture, the screenplay by Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott has been adapted for the stage by Matthew White and Howard Jacques and is presented by arrangement with RKO Pictures LLC, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures Inc. and the Irving Berlin Music Company.

The story is about Jerry Travers (Tom Chambers), the famous American tap dancer who arrives in London to appear in his first West End show. Here he meets leggy blonde Dale Tremont (Summer Strallen), the girl of his dreams and a case of mistaken identity leads to all sorts of shennanigans and they end up together.

Summer Strallen and Tom Chambers
Photo by Alastair Muir
Tom Chambers is a great dancer, pulling off all the moves graciously in fine style, a lovely little hat stand routine to note. Fortunately his dancing is his saving grace as his voice doesn't quite match the tap dancing and ballroom quality, which leaves me rather disappointed for this leading man. Summer Strallen on the other hand is an all singing, all dancing gem of a star. Lovely vocals and shimmering moves, this is the quality of a leading lady. The one thing that Tom and Summer don't have is the connection on stage between the two characters, there is no spark, no flames... another let down in the evening.

What does make up for this are the splashes of comedy thrown in and great acting from others on the stage, notably Stephen Boswell as the ever so cunningly disguised butler, gondolier and various other characters. Stephen has this great stage presence, great comedic values and facial expressions which are a pleasure to watch. Martin Ball (Horace Hardwick) and Ricardo Afonso (Alberto Beddini) are also great to watch on the stage, again some great performances.

The sound for the production is very good, sound designer Gareth Owen has done a sterling job so we hear all the orchestra well, but not too over powering. Musical Director Dan Jackson is doing some great work in the pit, working with lovely orchestrations for classics such as Puttin' On The Ritz, Cheek To Cheek and Let's Face The Music And Dance.

The art-deco set is put to good use, including a hansom cab and aeroplane, with sliders being used throughout to conceal the set changes, and the automation flows well to swiftly go into the scenes.

Top Hat is good quality light entertainment, another vintage musical in the West End. Some good performances, great dancing and fabulous music. ✭✭✭✭

Listings Information
Dates: 19 April 2012 – 26 January 2013
Address: Aldwych Theatre, Aldwych, London WC2B 4DF
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
                          Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Box Office: 0844 847 1712
Ticket prices: £65 - £20 Concessions available
Website: www.tophatonstage.com

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