The all-singing, all-dancing, award-winning musical, Top Hat, had everyone toe-tapping along on its opening night at the Sunderland Empire.
The musical, which is based on the record-breaking movie that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together, sees Jerry Travers, the famous American tap dancer, played by Alan Burkitt, arrive in London to appear in his first West End show, only to fall in love with the incredibly gorgeous Dale Tremont, played by Charlotte Gooch.
But, in the attempt to win her heart, a case of mistaken identity, jumping to the wrong conclusion and, of course, a fake wedding gets in the way.
It only takes you to watch the opening number, Puttin’ On The Ritz, to see why this musical has won three Olivier Awards; for Best New Musical, Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.
Starting as it means to go on, the energetic dance number sees canes and bowler hats swishing about, Cuban heeled shoes tapping in perfect sync with one another and a cast who never fails to hit a single note.
Although the storyline is boy meets girl and they fall in love, you’ll find no soppy love story here. In fact, this lavish production is filled with comedy aspects that keep the audience hooked and laughing throughout.
You’d be in fit of giggles too after watching young Romeo kidnap Dale in her own taxi, sending her flowers in the shape of horse shoes and watching as disguise fanatic butler Bates, played by John Conroy, dresses as a dashing woman and Italian gondolier in a bid to stalk Miss Tremont. That, and the mix of witty jokes from Madge Hardwick, played by Rebecca Thornhill and the hilarious behaviour of Alberto Beddini, played by Sebastien Torkia, who has everyone in fits with his rather awkward stripping off and his absurdly funny Italian accent.
However, Jerry does get the chance to sweep the beautiful Dale off her feet in their ballroom number, Cheek To Cheek. Throughout every lift, sway and swish in that stunning floor length, white, satin gown the audience is with them all the way, gazing in awe.
Even though this blossoming romance is at the heart of Top Hat, it’s the flair of quick wit and fresh sense of humour that’s kept this classical musical still widely regarded as one of the greatest dance stories of all time.