REVIEW: Top Hat, Theatre Royal

Following the recent success of Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre in London, the winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical has embarked on a major national tour. The London production was charming and compelling whilst the current tour exceeds all expectations, raising the bar to a superbly high level. Immersive, captivating, nostalgic and breathtaking all at once, Top Hat is a beautiful production that should not be missed.

A classic story of mistaken identity, Broadway star Jerry Travers (originally portrayed by Fred Astaire in the 1935 film on which this production is based) arrives in London to appear in a new West End show produced by his friend Horace Hardwick. Meeting at Horace’s hotel, Jerry soon irks the guest downstairs by performing a tap dance routine late into the night. When the guest “drops up” to complain about the noise, Jerry falls in love and pursues the cold Dale Tremont until finally winning her affections whilst comforting her during a thunderstorm. But when Dale discovers her friend Madge’s new husband Horace is staying in the room above hers, she assumes the worst and attempts to escape the inevitable chemistry between herself and Jerry.

Alan Burkitt is wonderful as Jerry Travers, perfectly portraying the love struck star, his chemistry with Charlotte Gooch is thrilling to watch whilst their dances are simply breathtaking. Gooch is fantastic as Dale Tremont, her transition from cold love interest to adoring lover is heart-warming in itself. Rebecca Thornhill’s appearance in act two threatens to steal the show with a rapid succession of humour, glamour and delightful vocals whilst Sebastien Torkia’s strip tease with a twist provides an uproarious scene in the midst of the most complicated sequence of mix-ups and mayhem.

Featuring a selection of Irving Berlin’s greatest songs and designed to perfection by Hildegard Bechtler (with stunning costumes by Jon Morrell), Top Hat is a feast for the eyes and ears which affectionately reminisces the golden era of Hollywood musicals. The original black and white film is alive with colour, splendour and subtle modernity in a theatre event for anyone and everyone who loves musicals.

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