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.
This was a glamorous night (yes, I know that’s by Ivor Novello): Joan Collins, Petula Clark, Richard Fleeshman, Michael Feinstein, Gloria Hunniford, Nanette Newman, Hayley Mills and Una Stubbs. And that was just the audience – plus Carol Thatcher and Jeffrey Archer for some hideous reason, although it was a great pleasure to see Gyles Brandreth buying their interval drinks because they weren’t on the guest list.
Who can take a set list? Sprinkle it with class……
… as through two hours a delicious cast of 5 chart a course through nigh on 60 of the songs of lyricist Leslie Bricusse. Unashamedly a ‘juke-box musical’, the show marks producer Danielle Tarento’s first foray into that genre, with a combination of both song snatches and entire numbers as Bricusse’s remarkable body of work is referenced and respected.
All credit to Elliot Davis, Senbla and the genius of casting director Anne Vosser too, for assembling such a platinum plated cast to perform the little known Of Thee I Sing. But whilst this one-night-only’s company was majestic, the show itself plumbs the crassest depths of jingoistic prejudice, sexism and febrile farce. Quite how it won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize (the first musical ever to do so) beggars belief.