I may have left the Aldwych Theatre more than twenty-four hours ago but I am still tapping my feet and dancing around the room after seeing Top Hat. This is the stage adaptation of the classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical film that toured the UK before settling in the West End where it has won such plaudits as Best New Musical at the Olivier Awards. Top Hat tells the story of Jerry Travers, acclaimed Broadway dancer, who has come to London to star in a new production. His exuberant hotel-room tap routine wakes up Dale Tremont in the room below, and so begins a tale of mistaken identity, true love, and fabulous dancing.
Gavin Lee currently performs the iconic role of Jerry Travers and does so with great charm and skill. It was clear that he was having a wonderful time and his joy was utterly infectious. Kristen Beth Williams was delightful as Dale Tremont, giving feisty retorts to Jerry’s attempts to win her over and only yielding when they connect through the language of dance.
A certain amount of retooling has had to occur in transferring this well-loved work from screen to stage. Top Hat’s theatrical incarnation has been padded out a bit with some other famous Irving Berlin songs such as ‘I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket.’ This was an interesting change and some of the song additions helped to shed light on the characters’ motivations and feelings, but it also significantly extended the running time and so the show felt a bit long at two hours and forty minutes, including interval.
…a silhouetted dancer mimics Jerry’s movements above her to complete the dance illusion…
The staging is very creative and makes use of sliding walls and rotating rooms to execute scene changes without having to interrupt the action. A particularly clever moment was the accomplishment of the scene in which Jerry wakes up Dale as he dances in the room that is meant to be above hers. Dale’s room is revealed upstage and a silhouetted dancer mimics Jerry’s movements above her to complete the dance illusion.
Top Hat is a captivating production that is the perfect blend of romance, comedy, dance and music. It is impossible to leave the theatre without a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
Top Hat runs until October 26 at the Aldwych Theatre.