The musical rom-com Top Hat is based on the 1935 film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and sees Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Good step into their predecessors’ dancing shoes with a result that will blow your hat off, top or otherwise.

Leeds Grand Theatre’s Christmas show benefits from Hildegard Bechtler’s art deco design which depicts the New York, London and Venice locations with stunning veracity – and Bill Deamer’s sensational and exacting choreography is perfectly executed with great exuberance by the entire ensemble.

Matthew White’s masterful direction focuses on the laugh-out-loud comedy (which has a wry Wildean wit), while Irving Berlin’s score is popular music of its era at its best and still has a contemporary freshness.

Sebastien Torkia (Alberto Bedinni) Photo by Max Lacome-Shaw (2)There is sizzling hot chemistry and powerful passion between Burkitt and Good as Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont which make up for the wafer-thin plot of love and mistaken identity. And the terrific selection of Berlin songs including Top Hat, White Tie and Tales, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Cheek to Cheek, Let’s Face the Music and Dance and Isn’t It a Lovely Day to be Caught In the Rain carries the narrative forward in grand style.

Speaking of style, the 200-plus costumes by Jon Morrell are simply to die for and for this lovely evening at Leeds Grand Theatre many of the audience have come in glamorous attire (I even wore a tie!). Particularly noteworthy is John Conroy as Bates the butler with his Woodhouse humour.

Joe Alexander excels with a luscious and lavish musical arrangements. And, as if there wasn’t enough glamour in the ensemble already, Sebastian Torkia as Alberto Beddini deliberately overacts a farcical striptease.

Most importantly, Gooch and Burkitt’s unsurpassed mastery as dancers with athletic routines performed with apparent consummate ease make this a must-see show and a wonderful winter warmer for the heart.

By Rich Jevons


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What: Top Hat

Where: Leeds Grand Theatre

When: until January 11, 2015

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