Top Hat Oct. 11th, ’12

london west end

This was almost not happening – I thought our Globe-experience would be in the evening and when we realised it was a matinee, we quickly booked this – and it was a fun experience to say the least. The show was built around Tom Chambers, obviously a fan-favorite after his win in Strictly come Dancing a few years back (I hadn’t seen it and hadn’t heard about him much before I saw him on stage).

So all I had was the Astaire-Rogers-movie to compare the show to and I must admit that even tho it was a lot of fun, the show wasn’t quite able to catch the effortless elegance Fred Astaire was capable of bringing to the silver screen. While Summer Strallen WAS Ginger Rogers at times, Chambers made points when tap dancing only. As soon as he was forced into a ballroom waltz though his body lacked tension – which was doubly apparent because Miss Strallen is so damned talented and has full control over all her moves. He on the other hand looked a bit brutish, to say the truth.

So the story follows the movie (just like Singing In The Rain, which is apparently the direct competition for Top Hat) with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (who filled a tailcoat like nobody else ever could): Jerry Travers is a huge star on broadway and goes to England to conquer the West End.  On his last day in New York he meets Dale Tremont who is annoyed at  his tap dancing in the hotel suite above hers and therefore comes to complain. Just when he thinks he has found THE woman – and she thinks he is THE man, it seems thanks to mistaken identities that the man she has fallen in love with is Horace Hardwick (under whose name the hotel suit above hers  is booked) – the husband of her best friend Madge. Until everything is cleared up and Jerry is able to finally kiss Dale, she accepts the marriage proposal of her designer boss Alberto Beddini, gets married by a butler in disguise and has Horace chastised for an indiscretion in the park.

It’s a fun story and the dancers are wonderful, the ensemble numbers amazing. Chambers is definitely a fan favorite, but to me he wasn’t really up to the part and I do have to admit I liked “Singing” with “the other Strallen” better.

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