9th October 2018
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
Type of Production
Author: Julie Petrucci
For their latest musical BSEAODS chose High Society, a show well known from the film but rarely performed by amateurs. As with all Cole Porter shows though the music is distinctly easy on the ear and the show has a good many well known songs.
The plot, in truth, is somewhat lightweight and is set in Long Island in New York State. It revolves around socialite Tracy Samantha Lord and her proposed marriage to George Kittredge, a wealthy industrialist. Various deceptions are plotted and unravelled before Tracy finally decides instead to remarry her former husband Dexter and all ends happily.
The settings were well thought out with the main backdrop adapted to suit the sixteen scenes and ensured the stage crew (at times augmented by “The Staff”) were not idle as they were called upon to handle myriad scene changes. Costumes were lovely, hair and make-up excellent and lighting and sound were of a good standard.
Katie Woodhouse in the lead role of Tracy was great throughout. She made a striking figure, elegant and graceful with good stage presence and a fine voice. Her opening songs "High Society" and "Ridin' High" with the servants, set the tone for what followed.
Alec Taylor had charisma as C.K. Dexter Haven and gave a well judged performance, singing several of Porter's great songs with panache and charm.
BSEAODS stalwart Mel Barnes was an engaging and flirting Uncle Willie, posing as Tracy's father, and very much enjoying the role. He had much of the humour and played it for all it was worth.
Catherine Dale and Jamie Maguire as the hapless reporters from a society magazine, Liz Imbrie and Mike Connor, worked well together and were a believable working partnership. They were both in fine voice and gave strong performances in those pivotal roles.
Damon Morrish was a suitably pompous and indignant George Kittredge, singing his song "I Worship You" superbly. He made the most of an unsympathetic role.
Fiona Barker as Mother Lord gave a good performance and made much of the reprise of "Ridin' High" with the staff. Steve Murray did well as Seth Lord, Tracy's real father, posing as Uncle Willie.
Polly Pateman’s, Dinah, Tracey’s little sister, was a delight and no doubt more will be seen of her in future productions. Great stage presence and a superb delivery. Polly gave an outstanding performance.
The Ensemble singing was excellent and the dancing and movement very polished . As “The Staff” they worked hard and were very supportive of the principals. They appeared to be continually on and off stage performing a number of reprises as well as some of the main musical numbers.
Although slightly loud at times, the orchestra conducted by Musical Director Michelle Parry were first-rate and produced the perfect backing for a show well choreographed by Heather Couch.
I must congratulate Joe Taylor on the splendidly ingenious programme. Not only informative but a darn good read too.
In summary, Director Maximilian Clay, handled what is a difficult show, being more of a play with music than a musical, well and his cast rose to the challenge. Even though there was an initial first-night nervousness, things settled down quickly to provide a fine evening’s entertainment.