HIGH SOCIETY (musical)
Ends 22nd August 2015.
A musical version of the movie "The Philadelphia Story" we get the story of
a divorcee marrying into a class above. A reporter covering the tale
uncovers a little more about her history, and we get to hear great songs
like "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" (no, you can't phone a friend!), "Swell
Party" and "True Love".
Photo credit: all photographs on this page by Johan Persson. Used by kind
permission of the photographer and Old Vic press office.
(Seen at the afternoon preview performance on 9th May 2015)
There are three good reasons to see this show. Firstly, it looks wonderful. Tom
Pye’s elegant orchestra balconies and simple yet inspired scene changes combine
with Peter Mumford’s lighting to produce several breathtaking tableaus that
assist the action no end.
Second, Ellie Bamber (in pink, above). 18, playing 14 year old Dinah Lord with enough wickedly
funny energy to power the entire Eastern seaboard, including New York, where
surely she’d be celebrated among the best.
Third, the opening sequence. Overtures will never be the same again. The monkey
won’t spoil it for anyone, but have a few songs of the 1950s (up to July 1958)
After all that, it’s a polite evening which never really catches fire. The story
is paper-thin (the monkey still didn’t get the sub-plot about blackmail) and the
singing scene changes grate after a while – even if it does give the chorus a
chance to shine.
Kate Fleetwood (above) and Rupert Young dazzle briefly as they close act one with “True
Love” (one of the stunning tableaus mentioned earlier); and Annabel Scholey
reveals herself a singer with “He’s a Right Guy,” but beyond that the show
drifts like a tiny boat across the stage.
Whenever Bamber or Young are off-stage, the energy level seems to flag. The
songs don’t always sit easily and seem an excuse for a dance number – do we
really need two set-pieces at the start of the second half, particularly as the
famous “Well, Did You Evah?” and the earlier “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” are
the high-water marks of the show.
It’ll suit anyone looking for a completely inoffensive afternoon out (the
strongest it got was proved by a nasty, bratty young girl seated a row behind
the monkey, who loudly asked “what’s footsie?”) but doesn’t compare to “Top Hat”
a few years ago for elegance, grace or sheer fun.
One for those after a few great performances from some well known names, and
a bit of a rest, perhaps.