High Society

Date 27th July 2013
Society Orrell Musical & Dramatic Society
Venue St Michael's Parish Hall Wigan
Type of Production Musical
Director Matt Morrell
Musical Director Linda Scott
Choreographer Jakie Webb & Charlotte Morell

Report

Author: Patricia Connor

‘High Society’  was originally an American musical comedy film made in1956 starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter with a screenplay by John Patrick. The musical was based on the play ‘The Philadelphia Story’ by Philip Barry. ‘High Society’ was the last film appearance of Grace Kelly, before she became Princess Grace of Monaco and it was released three months after her wedding to Prince Rainier III

The story revolves around a highly successful jazz musician C.K. Dexter Haven who is divorced from wealthy socialite Tracy Samantha Lord, but he is still in love with her and also lives next door. Unfortunately she is about to marry her second husband, a rather bland businessman called George Kitteridge. Things start to go awry when Sydney Kidd, the editor of ‘Spy Magazine’ who is in possession of some rather embarrassing information about Seth Lord, Tracy's father, sends an undercover reporter Mike Connor and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie to cover the wedding hoping to find out more information about Seth and get an exclusive. Tracy finds out what they are up to, so she begins a charade, pretending that her Uncle Willie is her father and vice versa. Things are complicated even more when Connor falls in love with Tracy, but in the end she must choose between three very different men as she discovers her feelings and true self.

I have noted that ‘High Society’ is a show that has not been performed very often over the years compared to others, even though it has some really well known musical number’s in its score. These include ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ ‘Well Did You Ever’, ‘True Love’ and ‘It’s All Right With ME’, so it was nice to hear these songs again. There were also some nice performances from the cast in this production including Paula Waring as Tracy Samantha Lord who was on the stage most of the time, she gave a good energetic performance singing well, her dialogue was clear and she kept up her American accent all the way through the show. I particularly enjoyed her duet ‘True Love’ with Andrew Southern who gave us a nice easy going pleasing characterization as Dexter Haven. Diane Jones as Margaret Lord, Tracy’s mother was suitably flustered and confused as the chaos unfolds; she also had some nice comedic nuances. Natalie Jones gave a very enjoyable performance as Dinah Lord Tracy’s sister and partner in crime while Victoria Fairhurst gave a good amusing performance as Elizabeth Imbrie the photographer. She had very good comic timing and an expressive face which added to the comedy especially when being pursued by the comical David Jones as the alcohol loving Uncle Willie which was very entertaining. David Simm gave a very agreeable performance as Mike Connor the reporter, his scene with Tracy at the party when they had a little too much to drink was very enjoyable. Neil Sutcliffe and Bill North who played George Kitteridge and Seth Lord fitted into the action well and gave pleasing characterizations.  However some of the cast did lose their American accents on a few occasions, as some local dialect could be heard at times. The chorus of staff worked hard and was very supportive of the principles. They appeared to be continually on and off stage performing a number of reprises as well as some of the main musical numbers, all of which they appeared to cope with very well. There was a problem getting on and off stage for some of their numbers, especially those which took place in front of the tabs as the entrances appeared rather small, meaning some of them were a bit late getting on stage and they had to queue to get off. There was also a problem with the sound at times predominantly in  act one when the microphones kept going on and off which meant some dialogue and singing could not be heard. However on a positive note the microphones worked much better in the second act and the sound quality was very good.

Choreography by Charlotte Morrell and Jackie Webb was suitable for the era, effective and performed well. Costumes were suitable for this show; those for the party and wedding were very striking. The small band led by Musical Director Linda Scott played well and were very supportive of the cast. They were a little loud on a few occasions but this could have been due to the problem with the sound. The set was minimalist and the stage crew, props and lighting were efficient and worked with very little noise.

Congratulations to Matt Morrell for an entertaining show and well done to everyone involved in this production including front of house. The audience really enjoyed this show and was more than appreciative at the end of the performance cheering cast members as they took their bows.