Review: High Society

Written by: Julia Collins

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

The costumes are as sparkling as the champagne in this production, as the glamour of the 1930s mixed with comedy, romance and music.

High Society started life as 1939 stage play The Philadelphia Story before becoming a musical film 16 years later, starring Grace Kelly.

High Society musical

It tells the tale of socialite Tracy Lord, who is preparing for her wedding to dull-but-safe fiance George Kittredge. The arrival of former husband Dexter Haven and reporter Mike Connor and photographer Liz Imbrie, along with Tracy’s estranged father lead to confusion and identity-swapping reminiscent of a farce.

There is further complication when Connor falls for the bride-to-be, to the exasperation of colleague Liz, who is secretly in love with him.

Eventually Tracy is forced to choose between the three very different men.

The cast is led by Sophie Bould as Tracy Lord, and although her voice was rather swamped by the orchestra in the opening number, she was a great choice for the demanding role, equally at home tap-dancing on a tabletop as performing a powerful duet.

Former Robin Hood and Dynasty star Michael Praed, as Tracy’s former husband Dexter Haven, drew a cheer from the audience as he first arrived on stage and didn’t disappoint in an understated performance with perfect comic timing and a unexpectedly good voice, which combined well with Bould’s for the pair’s romantic ballad True Love.

But the voices of the night belonged to Daniel Boys as Mike Connor and Alex Young as Liz Imbrie, and it was a shame that the pair didn’t have more numbers to demonstrate their abilities.

Boys has come a long way since he auditioned to be Joseph on TV show Any Dream Will Do and his performance of You’re Sensational in the second act was the vocal highlight of the night.

As well as True Love, well-known Cole Porter songs which prompted murmurs of recognition from the audience included Let’s Misbehave, Well, Did You Evah? and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

The Art Deco set, complete with revolving centre, suggested rather than became a mansion, with windows and furniture almost constantly on the move from one scene to the next.

The ensemble cast didn’t put a foot wrong and their appearances, such as the percussion-filled Well, Did You Evah?, were hugely enjoyable.

High Society all hinges around a rather predictable plot and the production is very traditional – there were even jazz hands at several points – but the energy levels are high and even a technical hitch at the start of the second half which meant that the the show was stopped for 10 minutes failed to make them drop off.

Anyone wanting a feel-good night out, full of cheerful tunes and plenty of sparkle could do worse than slip on their favourite sequins and go see this show.

Author: Julia Collins

My favourite film is French, which means that I can pretend to be really deep. I can often be found at gigs and festivals dancing enthusiastically and very badly to the music I love, even if no one else is.

Read more posts by

Leave a comment