"Snazzy production of golden-age musical"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 03/11/17

While the original stage show only appeared six years ago, “Top Hat”, which is produced by GEOIDS and currently running at the Bridewell Theatre, is based on the 1935 Irving Berlin film musical, which starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Directed by Tal Hewitt, it tells the tale of Jerry Travers (Paul Nicholas Dyke), an American singer who is brought to London by producer Horace Hardwick (Stephen Hewitt) in order to do a show in the West End. His noisy dancing attracts the attention of fashion model Dale Tremont (Natalie Joel-Smith) and despite some initial animosity, the two quickly fall in love.

The problem comes when Tremont mistakes him for Horace, who also happens to the second husband of her best friend Madge (Grace Iglesias Fernandez). Disgusted at the behaviour of “Horace”, Tremont flees to Venice with her fashion designer chaperone Alberto (Dan Geller). However, Jerry has convinced himself that Tremont is the only woman for him and persuades Horace to charter a plane to Venice, where Madge is sunning herself and getting down to the serious business of spending her husband’s money. Naturally, things eventually resolve themselves, though not before several twists and turns have taken place.

The production combines classic numbers from the original film, such as “Top Hat, White Tie & Tails” and “Cheek to Cheek”, with other hit Berlin songs, including “Puttin’ On the Ritz”, making it a treat for fans of music from that era. Strong singing and dancing from leads Dyke and Joel-Smith, as well as great supporter acting from Hewitt and Iglesias Fernandez, make the evening even more enjoyable. Daniel Paul also provides additional comic relief as Bates, Horace’s loyal butler. All these factors help make the three hours of the show immensely enjoyable.

The only downsides are the limitations of the book, especially the stream of groan-worthy gags. A few of the big numbers could also have benefited from a little bit more power. However, the show is still very good, and a must-see for fans of golden-age musicals.

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