Kim Meets World

A blog raveled in randomness

Thoughts on ‘Top Hat’

Official Production Photo

Official Production Photo

I myself am getting tired of using the same adjective over and over again, but ’tis the limitations of the human language. So I have no choice but to say: this musical was wonderful! Containing a great balance between drama, music and dance, ‘Top Hat’ (at Aldwych theatre) is a romantic and hilarious musical that anyone can enjoy–especially for those who enjoy tap dancing. The musical had a steady pace in which the performers did not sing one song after the other like ‘Les Miserables’, and it had a beautiful setting with a realistic yet elaborate decor on stage. Performers were great actors in a sense that they sang in their characters’ accents with such natural flow, and the dance ensembles were amazing in creating a smooth transition from one scene to the other. That is what I liked about this musical. Unlike the other musicals I have seen so far in London (which is equivalent to ‘so far in my life’), ‘Top Hat’ creatively, without forced insertion, gave spotlights to the dance ensemble or the cast other than the main characters in between or at the beginning/end of scenes. It felt like I was watching television as short skits (still relevant to the story) were presented in front of closed curtains, and the minor characters (that are usually in the background in other musicals) were just being hilarious and bringing laughter and smile to the audience. This was a good-feel performance that I think everyone who enjoys musicals should give a chance at watching.

The story is about Jerry Travers (portrayed by Gavin Lee), a celebrated American dancer, who comes to London to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick (Clive Hayward). While practicing tap dance at a hotel he was staying, Jerry awakens Dale Tremont (Kristen Beth Williams) who was staying one floor below. Thus their first encounter occurs as Dale storms into Jerry’s room to complain and Jerry hopelessly falls in love with her. The story thickens as Dale mistakens Jerry as Horace, who is married to Madge (Vivien Parry). With prejudices flying all over the place between various characters, this musical introduces hilarious characters like Horace’s valet Bates (Stephen Boswell) who regularly disguises himself in costumes to spy on Dale or Alberto Beddini (Alex Gaumond) who boasts himself with nationalistic pride in musical number ‘Latins Know How’. The mistakes and prejudgement of who’s who intertwines everyone’s path in Venice, and the story moves foward as Dale cannot stop herself from falling in love with a ‘married man’…

Official Production Photo

Official Production Photo

All of the performers were amazing at both singing (I loved the clear voice of Gavin and Kristen) and dancing, and I can confidently say this because the performance showed the same amount of dancing to singing. Usually musicals have a short ‘dancing-time’ in between verses during a musical number, but in ‘Top Hat’, their music allowed the audience to enjoy different styles of dancing from tap dancing to ballroom dancing for a sufficient amount of time. The lights would dim or get stronger depending on the dance style (light orange over the Venetian couple dancing tango and soft blue over the couple dancing in a ballroom), and the people surrounding the dancing couple were positioned perfectly to complement the structure of space as well as the focus on stage. I really want to applaud again to the creative staff of this production because the scenary were illustrated in such a beautiful way. How a wagon among trees or an airplane among clouds were depicted were cleverly done in the middle of the stage with sliding screens. The costumes were beautiful that as a girl with no fashion interest, I wanted to have them in my wardrobe. The elaborate stage setting (especially the hotel) made the interior design of the rooms fabulous and rich with details–it was as if the set was plucked out from Hollywood movies.

From the moment when Bates first disguised himself as a waiter to Alberto Beddini ‘strip teasing’ in the hotel room, I laughed and snickered a lot throughout the musical. In ‘Wild About You’, Dale tries to seduce Jerry to marry her so that she could leave him brokenhearted. It was a form of giving him his own medicine since Dale mistook Jerry as Horace Hardwick. The hilarious part was that Horace was in the same room and he jumped, ducked and rolled to stay clear out of Dale’s sight. His various facial expressions from staying behind the curtains to sticking his back to one side of the sofa were priceless! There were also cute romantic moments when Jerry expresses his love for Dale in ‘I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket’ as he drives the wagon that Dale is in. In ‘Isn’t This is a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)?’, Dale tap dances with Jerry and the performers did a synchronised performance as their feet hit the floor on the same beat and motioned their hands and legs with perfect mirroring. And the ‘Finale’ was a great wrap up for this amazing musical as all the performers took their bow and the conductor’s top hat sprang out from the orchestra pit. Thank you for such a wonderful performance!

LINKS

‘Top Hat’ The Musical website: http://www.tophatonstage.com/home/

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