Society: Centre Stage London
Performance Date: 05/11/2013
Paul Johnson | 09 Nov 2013 13:51pm
Take a score full of Cole Porter classics such as “Let’s Misbehave”, “Did You Evah?”, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and “True Love”; throw in two journalists set on uncovering a tabloid scandal, a randy uncle, a mischievous, meddling little sister, troublesome parents, and a dashing ex-husband intent on winning back his ex-wife; and you a set for an evening of musical magic. So it is to the Bridewell Theatre I go, to see Centre Stage’s latest production of that classic, High Society.
Based on the play The Philadelphia Story, by Philip Barry, High Society is set in the wealthy fleshpots of Oyster Bay and centres of the Lord family on the eve of the second wedding of socialite Tracy Lord, the eldest daughter of the house.
Eileen Donnelly as the beautiful but remote heroine Tracy Lord gave a captivating performance. Cold and unforgiving to begin with, but we see flashes of mischief and fun, until she learns to find her “understanding heart” and realises the way her happiness truly lies. It was a heart-warming, and at times extremely funny portrayal; despite her faults, the audience could not help but fall in love with her.
Philip Doyle as her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven exuded an easy confidence that made watching him on stage a pleasure. His scenes with Tracy’s uptight fiancé George Kitteridge (John Vallance) were extremely funny; George’s humourless delivery and moral outrage contrasting to great comedic effect with Dexter’s light hearted wit. Dexter’s duet, “She’s Got That Thing” with the irrepressible Uncle Willy (played with clear enjoyment and delightful playfulness by David Walker-Smith) was also a high point of the first act.
Lotte Gilmore as precocious little sister Dinah was a joy; played with just enough childlike enthusiasm and sweet naivety without crossing the line to make it farcical. Her reunited parents (played by Maggie Robson and Murray Grant) were lovably vague and well meaning (though I’m not sure today’s modern woman would forgive a philandering husband as quickly!)
Journalists Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie (Michael Smith and Jo Eggleton) cast a sardonic, world weary eye over proceedings, but even they are caught up in the heady glitz and glamour of high society. Both actors shone at points through the show; Jo Eggleton’s heartfelt rendition of “He’s A Right Guy” was genuinely moving, while “Sensational” was beautifully sung by Michael Smith and very charming.
The show was vocally very strong from all performers, with “True Love” in particular bringing a tear to the eye. It was also nice to see an amateur show where the band didn’t overpower the vocals and every word could be clearly heard.
The pace was slightly lacking at the beginning of the show, but the energy picked up through the first half, and the second act really packed a punch. The chorus were well utilised throughout the production, each of them stayed in character, and there was some nice interaction between them, particularly between the butler and housekeeper. The big musical numbers were simply but effectively choreographed, and the cast obviously well rehearsed.
Many congratulations to the creative team and cast for this classy production. A most swelegant, elegant party indeed!
- : admin
- : 05/11/2013