"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The Old Vic Theatre
Swell Party starts, after a lengthy pre-show, with a party piece. Joe
Stilgoe, son and heir of Richard, is left alone at the on-stage grand
to show off by asking the audience for tunes to weave into virtuoso
Five, George Michael, O Mio Babbino Caro, Moon River – a great
medley, and a hard act to follow, frankly. Especially as High Society
is no Anything
Goes. A compendium piece, with Cole Porter numbers from various eras,
and a Philadelphia
Storyline about the romantic tangles of the Long Island idle rich.
Friedman's slick, inventive staging uses the tiny performance area –
about the size of an ocean liner dance floor, audience
on all four sides
– with movement and magic, highlighting some excellent period
performances. Kate Fleetwood is socialite Tracy Lord, whose ex [a
brilliant Rupert Young] turns up on the eve of her wedding to wooden,
humourless Kittredge [Richard Grieve]. The plot is charmingly
thickened by two undercover journalists – Jamie Parker and Anabel
Scholey. Many stellar performances further down the bill, too, from
Ellie Bamber as the tomboy younger Lord sister, Barbara Flynn as
their mother, and a bearded Jeff Rawle twinkling away like Dickie
Attenborough as tipsy Uncle Willie.
chorus comment on the action, shift the furniture, and cook a
sunnyside-up breakfast grill at the
side. The curtain calls have not only brilliant choreography but even
a musical backing synchronized with the characters.
stand-out numbers among so many standards [and the odd archaeological
– True Love, with the eponymous model boat on the projected pool
and later in the circle as the stalls seemingly fill with water, and
a stunning Let's Misbehave, with Stilgoe joining MD Theo Jamieson at
two pianos, and Nathan M Wright's choreography including a tap
routine on the lid of the grand.
high hopes of Chichester's two musicals for 2015, but I'm not sure
that even they can come up with a production number to beat that
memorable Let's Misbehave.