Review of Top Hat - Darlington Hippodrome
By Andrew Harrison - Arts critic
Darlington Operatic Society are not afraid of taking on a challenge, with their last two productions of Priscilla Queen of The Desert followed by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang proving this. This time their challenge is in taking us back to Irving Berlin’s 1935 comedy musical film staring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, which more recently was turned into a stage musical. This is a challenge they have certainly risen to.
Top Hat tells the story of American theatre star, Jerry Trevers, Luke Oldfield, who while practising a new tap routine in the hotel bedroom of Horace Hardwick, Julian Cound, he disturbs Dale Tremont, Claire Monaghan, on the floor below who storms up to complain. Jerry falls instantly in love with Dale. Dale is then under the impression that Jerry is Horrace, who has recently married Dale’s friend Madge, Samantha Morrison. Fashion designer Alberto Beddini, Andrew Hamilton, provides the love rival also after Dale’s affection. Horace’s valet Bates, Christopher McCann, provides some great moments as he is sent to keep an eye on Dale. All this mistaken identity and confusion is with the magical score of Irving Berlin’s greatest hits including ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘Let’s Face the Music & Dance’, ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and of course ‘Top Hat, White Tie and Tails’ which makes for an all singing, all dancing toe tapping two hours of entertainment. There are many moments which stand out in the show as it is full of glitz and glamour, but it was ‘Outside of That I Love You’ which provided the perfect demonstration of singing, acting and comedy from Samantha Morrison and Julian Cound.
It is clear that the costumes have been well thought out and created with such a large team involved, which transport us back to the 1930s perfectly.
With superb direction and choreography from Joanne Hand, the polished dance routines and the amazingly strong cast allow this production to take its place in a long line of shows worthy to grace the stage at the Darlington Hippodrome.
Top Hat runs at Darlington Hippodrome until Saturday 13th April.
Call 01325 244659 or book online at www.darlingtonos.org.uk