Top Hat by Cygnet Players
Top Hat is the musical version of the 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film. It tells of Jerry Travers, an American star who comes to London to perform in a show, produced by his friend Horace Hardwick. Whilst staying at his hotel his tap dancing causes the guest below him, Dale Tremont, irritation. Jerry however sets about trying to win her heart but a classic case of mistaken identity means the course of true love never runs smooth.
Top Hat hit the stage in 2011 but this is the first time I have seen this show performed by amateurs. Top Hat is a challenging show for even the most seasoned professional dancer as a huge range of dance ability is required so I was interested to see how an amateur company would cope.
Luckily Cygnet Players did more than cope with this challenge and the end result was a classy and polished show. It is a rare thing in amateur musical theatre to find a male triple threat who can fill the dancing shoes of Fred Astaire, Cygnet Players however were blessed with Nick Moorhouse who took the role of Jerry Travers. Moorhouse was the ideal Jerry, not only did he look and sound like a star but he made the dance look easy. He was strong all round from his tap to his ballroom, effortlessly leading his co-star around the stage. Charlotte Donald, who I have seen tread the boards many times for Cygnet Players, was Dale Tremont. This is possibly my favourite role I have seen her in as it really showed off her dance ability and as that famous line goes, she did it all backwards and in heels!
Adam Walker-Galbraith verges on stealing the show however as the hilarious Beddini, Jerry’s competition for Dale’s affection. His number, ‘Latin’s Know How’ was a brilliant highlight performed with real gusto and comedy. His attention to detail in his character ensured that he ensured every moment he was on stage was pure comedy. Neil Wease and Kate Chesworth as Horace and Madge Hardwick also added to the strong principal cast, helping ensure that there were no weak links on stage.
Kim Findlay choreographed the show and she did a fine job. All dance numbers were brilliantly drilled, posture was held well by all and the spacing was spot on. A mention must also go the ensemble who not only performed the numbers but they clearly worked well as a team. This resulted clean lines, kicks at the same height and above all ‘tits and teeth’ when performing.
Cygnet Players also succeed in keeping the show running quickly, despite the fact that a lot of scene changes were required. The set not only looked exactly as it needed to but it worked brilliantly with partitions cleverly hiding scene changes. My only criticism would be that when a member of the ensemble had a solo speaking or singing line you struggled to hear them above the orchestra. They either needed to project more or the sound design looked at more closely. The costumes were also a highlight, from the jewel coloured ball gowns to the girls matching tap sets, including the obligatory top hats!
Top Hat is a show Cygnet Players should be proud of. With polished dance, strong principals and ensemble and an impressive set works together to create an enjoyable and impressive show.
To find out more about Cygnet Players and Top Hat, visit their website.