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Top Hat - The Musical

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by Sally Writes (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer living in Gloucestershire. I have been writing family style articles in the form of columns for newspapers since 2000 and spent four years presenting an interview chat show on Forest of Dean Radio.
For a boost of happiness: See this stunning West End musical

We had been given four tickets by our dear and very generous friends to see Top Hat. Now this dear friend said that they had accidentally booked tickets for a Thursday, but had wanted them for Saturday. So they rebooked for Saturday and gave the spare tickets to us.

However, dear friend is also top London lawyer and I am still not completely convinced that he couldn't have persuaded the said ticket operator to simply exchange the tickets... so I feel it was in fact a very kind gift. Thank you, dear friend.

Our party of four consisted of Eldest Daughter, Eldest Daughter's best friend, 12 year old Daughter and myself. The 12 year old and I went up on the train. To her delight we found that we could watch a film en route in the entertainment carriage, drink tea and coffee and eat sandwiches. Quite a day out in itself.

On arriving in Paddington we were both thrilled by the statue of the bear himself. Somehow, despite many trips to the said station in the past, the bear's statue had somehow passed me by, but he is there in full glory for all to see.

As we walked into the auditorium I was amused to see that even I, with the more senior status of our immediate party, nevertheless brought down the average age of the audience by a fair margin and of course our ensemble brought it down further.

The show itself started life in 1935 as a film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The couple seamlessly tap dance their way through the film leaving viewers in awe of their ability to make it all look so effortless.

When Top Hat opened as a West End Show at the Aldwych on 9th May 2012 Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen had a hard act to follow. I was thrilled to see however that the choreography was superb and close to the original. The costumes were stunning and the set traditionally perfect. I chose the words "traditionally perfect" carefully, because in recent years sets and productions have become more and more elaborate, to the point where often they seem to have more prominence than the action and the plot.

Here though it was done with elegance and style and with just a few traditional tricks such as a revolving platform. The focus was on the performances and the choreography.

Strallen and Chambers were lovely to watch. I had only previously seen Tom Chambers in Waterloo Road and personally had missed his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, so for me it was quite a far cry from the seriously grumpy headteacher he portrayed in the t.v. drama. His portrayal of Jerry Travers was instead boyish and endearing, his dancing seamless and his charismatic charm utterly endearing. Summer Strallen has a far more traditional musical theatre background and embraced the part of Dale Tremont beautifully.

The storyline is absolute nonsense of course, as one would expect given its era, because the show is designed only to entertain, and that it does. And, at the risk of sounding like an old bore, it is so refreshing to view something with no bad language, no depressing scenes, no aggression and no trauma. It is simply good honest clean comedy.

It leaves you wanting to sing and dance down the street, with a feeling of absolute euphoria. Of course, Eldest and Youngest Daughter combined reminded me that I am indeed the mother of five and am far too old to be behaving in such an unrespectable manner in the streets of London, and so I keep my desire for singing and dancing to just the odd unseen wobbly step and the occasional note which blurts out involuntarily.

The Details:

Summer Strallen is performing until 24th November, so if you want to see the original cast, you need to get in quickly.
Tom Chambers is performing until 2nd February.

Tuesday - Saturday at 7.30pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets from 15 to 65

Tubes: Covent Garden, Holborn, Charing Cross
Rail: Charing Cross
NCP: Drury Lane

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Why? It's a delight to watch: entertaining from start to finish
When: Tuesday - Saturday at 7.30pm Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm
Phone: (0) 20 7492 1548
Where: Aldwych Theatre London
Cost: From 15 to 65
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