One of the best dance routines of all time comes from the classic RKO musical Top Hat. Cheek to Cheek was choreographed for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to float through the number in elegant synchrony.
The memorable feathered dress was replicated in the stage version that has now hit Sheffield’s Lyceum stage along with West End leads Alan Burkitt, playing Jerry Travers and Charlotte Gooch, playing Dale Tremont. Gooch performed the number like a swan in flight. As a duo, their steps were smooth and graceful and I can’t remember a more beautiful moment in any stage production I have seen to date. I had goosebumps and wanted to pause and rewind so I could watch it over and over again.
The whole show was full of creative sets and glamorous costumes which set the whole style of the 1935 classic film.
The fluffy tale of boy meets girl was delivered by a great cast who really stepped into their roles well, especially the wonderful Sebastien Torkia who played Alberto, an eccentric fashion designer and love rival to Jerry. The comedy came with perfect timing. The audience laughed at fresh husband and wife jokes throughout - and of course at the many disguises and idioms for John Conroy, who played Bates.
Irving Berlin’s sing-a-long score threw out classic after classic number. Some were not even part of the original film, yet they fell seamlessly into the stage show to allow us to enjoy even more dance numbers. This included the opening song ‘Puttin’ On the Ritz.’ The signature track Top Hat, White Tie and Tails had a spine-tingling tap routine, with a troupe all tapping simultaneously on the stage which had the boards, and the audience, bouncing.
I was pleased to see Alan Burkitt follow in Fred Astaire’s tap shoes when incorporating props into the routines - demonstrating a great use of a hat stand. The complicated routines were made to look a breeze by Burkitt whose performance was outstanding. He was able to accompany the orchestra as he created wonderful syncopated percussion just with his feet and a cane. ‘He was great but she did everything he did, but backwards….and in high heels.’
Top Hat is a must-see for any dance fan and runs at Sheffield Lyceum until March 7.