REVIEW – Top Hat (Manchester Opera House)

© 2015 Top Hat On Stage Ltd
© 2015 Top Hat On Stage Ltd
Date: 10 February 2015
Upstaged Rating: 

Top Hat transports us back to the golden age of Hollywood, it is all about the glitz and glamour, a romantic narrative steeped in the fast screwball comedy genre of 1930’s America. It is a dance extravaganza with a showcase of Irving Berlin’s show tunes providing the perfect accompaniment to a night of precision tap dancing and Bill Deamer’s Olivier Award winning choreography.

For those who are not familiar, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred in the 1935 original movie of the same name – the plot is uncomplicated and quite farcical and tells the story of Jerry Travers (Alan Burkitt), a Broadway dancer, who falls for the stunning Dale Tremont (Charlotte Gooch). However, the course of love and romance never did run smooth and his failed attempts to woo her result in hilarious misunderstandings and mistaken identities. The simple but well-made plot is loaded with humour which the cast deliver with such impeccable timing and pace – once you let yourself get swept up with the sentiment and moral sensibility of the 1930’s, the comedy is an absolute delight.

Alan Burkitt’s dancing is technically flawless and perfectly synced as he tap dances with his silhouette in the hotel room above where Dale is trying to sleep. Charlotte Gooch impresses as the leading lady, a real triple threat – her charming stage presence and comic timing make her as mesmorising an actor as she is a singer and dancer.

Top Hat really feels as if it was made for the stage, the second act really thrives in front of a live audience, there is a sense of spontaneity from fashion designer Alberto (Sebastian Torkia)who is also competing  for Dale’s affection. Horace (Clive Hayward) and Madge Hardwick (Rebecca Thornhill) and eccentric valet Biggs (John Conroy) all impress also during the denouement – with well-paced lines and no use of a blackout, the humour reaches a crescendo which the audience love. Top Hat is not just any champagne – it is a pink champagne of the finest quality.

The show boasts over 200 different costumes, designed by the award winning Jon Morrell; the beautiful and functional art deco set design by Hildegard Bechtler’s is also a highlight. Top Hat is pure gold entertainment, clean and elegant fun – that will leave you toe tapping and singing ‘Cheek to Cheek’ all the way home.

-Kristy Stott