music and lyrics by Cole Porter book by Arthur Kopit additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.
Upstairs at The Gatehouse, Highgate Village, N6 4BD to 31st January 2010.
Tue–Sat 7:30pm. Sun 4pm.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8340 3488.
Review: Geoff Ambler 21 January 2010.
A triumph as High Society finds True Love in Highgate.
Romance and champagne flow in a High Society transported from Long Island to England. Cole Porter’s 50’s musical sees Tracy Lord about to enter into her second marriage, this time to self-made man George Kitteridge. All is about to go to plan when dashing CK Dexter Haven, her first husband, turns up for the wedding celebrations along with a pair of undercover reporters hoping to find a story.
The Gatehouse’s mid-winter production conjures a summery palace in the country from gauze and lighting and re-crafting the scene changes keeps both the story and songs flowing. John Plews’ appreciation of and skill with the musical comedy is apparent throughout, as scene after scene is filled with hilarity both subtle and, artfully, not so. ‘I Love Paris’ is one of many delight-filled excesses of humour, music and dance as Dinah and Tracy revel in creating a fantasy to exceed the reporters’ expectations of a privileged high society.
Kirby Hughes proves both an unforgettable drunk and an exuberant musical actress with her lavishly vivacious portrayal of Tracy. Peter Kenworthy’s adventurous Dexter Haven is suave, charming and a smooth counter to Alex Wadham’s staid Kitteridge. Hayley Emma Otway and Brendan Cull, as the reporters, continue the Gatehouse’s strong casting.
Plews’ Kitteridge is now a northern industrialist, with appropriate accent; a self-important if not irritating bore, which makes the eventual, inevitable outcome enjoyable. And to confirm his unsuitability he demonstrates his love by licking his fiancée’s arm, eliciting cringing from the audience.
Throughout the show, choreographer Lee Proud produces marvel after marvel as he uses every inch of the narrow stage and oodles of imagination to excite and delight with endless magnificent ensemble pieces. ‘Let’s Misbehave’ is a work of art with occasional tap.
The Gatehouse’s High Society adds a fresh perspective which energizes and reanimates this great musical, thanks to some seriously fine work from both the director and choreographer and the charismatic and unforgettable pairing of Hughes and Kenworthy in a production worth sharing far beyond Highgate.
Tracy Lord: Kirby Hughes.
CK Dexter Haven: Peter Kenworthy.
Liz Imrie: Hayley Emma Otway.
Mike Connor: Brendan Cull.
Margaret Lord: Dympna Le Rasle.
Seth Lord/Stanley: Tony Lewis.
Dinah Lord: Jessica Bastick-Vines.
Uncle Willy: Peter Le Breuilly.
George Kitteridge/Gordon: Alex Wadham.
Polly/Dance Capain: Nicola Martin.
Edmund: Brendan Matthew.
Florence: Yasmin Wakefield.
Arthur: Adam Pritchard.
Director: John Plews.
Designer: Fi Russell.
Lighting: Howard Hudson.
Sound: Craig Garratt.
Musical Supervisor: Oli Jackson.
Musical Director: Tom Kelly.
Choreographer: Lee Proud.
Costume: Geri Spencer.