Top Hat

Date 10th November 2018
Society CAOS Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Alun Armstrong Theatre, Civic Hall, Stanley
Type of Production Musical
Director Lee Brannigan
Musical Director Gillian Anderson
Choreographer Lee Brannigan


Author: Michelle Coulson

Top Hat is a feel good romantic musical comedy containing the music of Irving Berlin and such great hits as “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”, “Putting on the Ritz”, “Isn’t This a Lovely Day” and “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” and is based on the RKO film starring Fred Astaire. The plot is thin but that is more than made up for with the succession of excellent songs and dances.

The show opened with a very striking “Putting on the Ritz” where it was clear that the cast, some of whom had never tap danced before, had worked very hard to make a big impression and the enjoyment and enthusiasm was rewarded by a very positive response from the audience.

The amount of work Lee Brannigan put into this show was huge, he not only directed and choreographed the production but also took on the lead role of Jerry Travers. He sang and danced his way through nine musical numbers delivering each with style and unfailing energy. In the role of his leading lady, Dale Tremont, Emily Smith sang and danced beautifully and also looked stunning, every inch the 1930s icon. Their “Cheek to Cheek” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” numbers were very well performed providing the audience with the famous “Fred and Ginger” moments.

There were very good comedic performances from Bill Collins and Kirsty Swirls as the English producer of Jerry’s show Horace Hardwick and his wife with the venomous put downs, Madge Hardwick, both provided great characterisations.

Martin Anderson was convincing as the ever patient butler Bates, providing straight faced slap stick and milking the humour from every line and scene. As Alberto Beddini, Steven Berry relished playing the continental dressmaker, super accent and character and his “Latins Know How” number was very good. These two characters were both very popular with the audience and provided many laugh out loud moments.

The many cameo roles were all well played and gave good support to the main line up and the entire ensemble captured the style and feel of the era. I must also mention the finale in which the entire cast danced, it was very impressive.

The production was supported by an accomplished orchestra who enjoyed the big dance numbers and singing throughout was of a high standard and supported with appropriate sound. The scenery was good and had a stylised 1930’s look which was completed by the beautiful costumes and complimented by the lighting plot.

Congratulations to Lee, Gillian and everyone at CAOS for celebrating your 115 year anniversary with such an iconic musical. It was also my pleasure to present NODA long service awards to Fiona Havercroft  (20 years) and David Ranson (55 years), congratulations to you both.