Tip Top Hat

When times are hard we tend to want escapist entertainment. Some of the greatest musicals were penned in the austere years following in Wall Street Crash during the depression of the 1930s. Many of these are the classics that are screened on television on Sunday afternoons.

We must be going through tough times again for no fewer than 31 musicals are playing or opening soon in the West End.

[L]ast week we went to the Aldwych Theatre to see Top Hat a musical loosely based on the 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film. The original version was based on a play written by Alexander Farago which seems rather appropriate for a story based on the single premise. Yes Shakespeare made a good living writing these plot lines, but for Top Hat this is the only plot line.

Starring Tom Chambers, who won Strictly Come Dancing a few years ago, and Summer Strallen who both thankfully don’t try to reprise the Astaire/Rogers routine but give the numbers a modern twist.

They make a sterling job of injecting life into the routines. Chambers is personable and a very good dancer, while Strallen is attractive and manages to convey sensuousness in the routine Wild About You.

As the audience tends to be well past their prime the two leads manage to keep the auditorium awake. But beware when climbing the stairs, Zimmer frames and sticks are the order of the day.

The sets have an Art Deco look and I particularly liked the stage device to imagine somebody dancing on the floor above Ms. Stratten by having a dancer in a stage above her in shadow, mimicking Tom Chambers on stage.

If you like black and white Sunday afternoon films don’t miss this piece of nostalgia. But for me they left out The Continental, yes I know it was from the Gay Divorcee and not written by Irving Berlin but it should have been included.

Or maybe it was and at my time of life I had dozed off for 5 minutes.

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