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London Theatre Review: Top Hat the Musical

by Lucy Woods

Adapted from the entertaining and lavishly costumed screenplay featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Top Hat is the new kid on the block in the West End – and my goodness he dances well!

Only transferring to the West End (the Aldwych Theatre) in April 2012, Top Hat has quickly made its way into the hearts of its audience with a sassy script, dazzling costumes, and some truly awesome choreography.

The musical tells the tale of Jerry Travers, an American dancer in his prime who travels to England and falls for the beautiful yet apathetic Dale Tremont. With a little charm and some fabulous dance moves, Jerry successful woos her, but after Dale mistakes him for his married producer mayhem ensues.

A potentially weak storyline is made into comedy gold with the perfect comic timing of its players, particularly that of the flamboyant Italian designer, Alberto Beddini, who spends much of the performance half-naked and incessant with impassioned rage.

Each choreographed song, starting with the delightful jazzy number “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, is executed with energy and passion. The tap numbers are particularly stunning – with current leading man, Gavin Lee, giving Fred Astaire a run for his money with his magical dancing shoes.

The audience are not the only ones to be captivated by this glittering diamond of a show: Top Hat received three Olivier Awards this year, including Best New Musical and Best Costume Design (Jon Morrell). The latter is most dutifully deserved as the costumes are exquisite.

Despite some cracking songs written by the remarkable Irving Berlin, the score is not always the most rousing. However, during the occasional slow moments the audience can distract themselves with the stunning stage backdrops, which are nearly as impressive as the costumes.

The past 6 months have seen some major cast changes, with Gavin Lee replacing the fabulously flirtatious Tom Chambers (who played Jerry), and Kristen Beth Williams taking on the role as Dale Vermont. A sensational dancing duo that could easily have been mistaken for Ginger and Fred.


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