Top Hat Review

By Manchester's Finest | 12 February 2015

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Top Hat has your toes tapping from start to finish. On stage that happens literally! Prepare yourself to be transported back to the golden days of Hollywood and musicals where you could dance away your troubles and sing your way into someone’s heart. Based on the classic 1935 RKO motion picture starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Top Hat tells the story of Broadway sensation Jerry Travers who dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont. Set in the 1930s it is delightful rom-com which sees a case of mistaken identity escalate into a hilarious scale and contains Irvin Berlin classics such as Cheek to Cheek, Puttin’ On the Ritz and Let’s Face the Music and Dance.

Photo by Max Lacome-Shaw

Back when the show opened in 2011 Strictly Come Dancing champion Tom Chambers starred in the lead role charming audiences and his celebrity status putting bums firmly on seats. His exit in 2013 was make or break for Top Hat as finding a replacement proved a hard task to get right. This UK tour seems to have found just the man in Alan Burkitt.

Burkitt displays some breathtaking dance moves as he taps his way expertly around the stage. At times he’s exhausting to watch as you mesmerize at the amount of choreography he gets through in the first half alone. His performance to the title song is a real highlight just before the interval; one that I’m sure would have got the Astaire seal of approval.

Photo by Max Lacome-Shaw

Every leading man needs his leading lady and Charlotte Gooch proves her worth here as she oozes with glamour and effortless elegance high kicking her way through the role of Jerry’s love interest Dale Tremont. Gooch manages to channel the spirit of Ginger Rogers, not only through her enviable looks (she has legs that go on forever) but through her dance moves and sassy confidence.

It’s not just the talented cast, of which there are many, (nods go to John Conroy for his deadpan portrayal of Bates the Butler and Sebastien Torkia who provides many a laugh as flamboyant fashion designer Alberto Beddini), it’s also the whole look of the production that truly impresses.

Photo by Max Lacome-Shaw

Hildegard Betchler’s set design is simply stunning, creating stylish art deco interiors, whilst Jon Morrell has created an enviable wardrobe for the cast, which leaves the audience in awe at its beauty. There’s over 200 exquisite costumes on display in Top Hat, including a showstopper white floor length gown (worn by Gooch as Dale).

The only criticism for me would be that the second half of the show is a tad too long and could certainly benefit from a song or dance being trimmed. Don’t expect to leave the theatre before 10.20pm!

That said it’s a small price to pay for seeing such a great show, which will leave you feeling you’re ‘in Heaven’!

Top Hat runs at the Opera House, Manchester till 21st February