Stephen Mear’s take on Top Hat, just opened at Leicestershire’s Kilworth House Theatre is further proof that for this summer at least, the very best musical theatre openings are all taking place outside of London.
Dan Burton who plays Sawyer’s love interest Billy Lawlor is another of Mear’s regular ingénues, last seen in the West End’s Gypsy. Arguably the best of his generation in musical theatre dance, Burton has a grace in his movement that has to be seen to be believed alongside perfectly pitched, mellifluous vocals. Other Brits in the cast include Alexander Hanson, Ria Jones and Jenny Dale.
It is rare to see perfection improved upon, but in its transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre, Jonathan Kent’s Gypsy achieves just that. A highlight of 2014, the resonance of Jule Styne’s big band brassy score filled the Sussex theatre’s world class open stage. But Gypsy was written in and for the Golden Age of Broadway, to be mounted on a proscenium stage. In re-sculpting their masterpiece to fit the Savoy’s traditional confines, Kent and choreographer Stephen Mear have excelled.