Paul Johnson | 03 Nov 2017 17:06pm
Top Hat is a stage musical based on RKO’s 1935 film of the same name, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin with additional orchestration by Chris Walker. The film featured the dance magic of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and is one of their most famous musicals.
GEOIDS’ production at the Bridewell Theatre is the first amateur production in London of this show. To stage a glitzy classic like Top Hat with its numerous scene changes and large dance numbers in a space such as the Bridewell is a challenge. It requires creative vision from the Director combined with great team work and dedication from the Production team as well as a talented cast ….. and you could tell that GEOIDS’ certainly had all of this .
Congratulations to Chris Hughes-Copping on a glamorous yet sophisticated set which linked beautifully with the lighting design and also managed to house Paul Cozens 13 piece band who were superb throughout. Costumes were striking and in keeping with the period. Lemington Ridley had clearly paid a lot of attention to detail both for principal and chorus costumes, which was great to see. A small gripe were the wonderful hats in the opening of Act 2 – unfortunately Dale Travers face was rather concealed beneath hers.
Performance wise, congratulations go to an extremely strong cast. Vocally everyone was superb. A special mention to all the small character parts that are not named in the programme but who all delivered their lines with great comic timing and the appropriate gesture or facial expression which really made the show. Stephen Hewitt (Horace Hardwick) and Grace Iglesias Fernandez (Madge Hardwick) had a good love/hate relationship. Daniel Paul (Bates) simply stole a lot of the limelight with his delightful comic timing. Dan Geller (Alberto Beddini) was a little subdued in the first half but more than made up for it in Act 2 with his fantastic Italian “ ‘Allo ‘Allo style” accent and his literally show stopping rendition of “Latins Know How”. The audience participation worked a treat! The leading duo, Paul Nicholas Dyke (Jerry Travers) and Nathalie Joel-Smith (Dale Tremont) made a wonderful pair, one suave, the other one sassy. To be picky, I would have liked some of Paul’s tap to have a little more “Astaire” ease, he seemed a tad ahead of the beat at times, but once he got his soft shoes on he came into his own, big time, and their “Cheek to Cheek” number was lovely. I just wish there was more space for them to show off their dance talents even more and I bet the choreographers wished this too!
Director Tal Hewitt has done a great job with this production. Through her vision she has found a way to manage the numerous scene changes in the space available by choreographing the slick cast to move furniture etc. This was clever and well done but due to the number of changes particularly in Act 1 it became a little tiresome. Her attention to detail with the whole cast is exceptional and everyone was well drilled in all the numbers. I came away knowing that I had seen an excellent production but wishing it could have had just had a bit more space to get the full effect of those wonderful Irvin Berlin numbers.
Well done to GEOIDS’ – a fantastic all round piece of team work!
- : admin
- : 01/11/2017