I am a die-hard musical fan. It’s been bred into me from a small age thanks to my mum’s love of The Sound of Music. One of my favourite musical is a lesser known classic, High Society. I still find it strange that it isn't very well known, considering the ridiculously famous and talented cast – Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong – not to mention a fantastically funny storyline and some of my favourite musical songs.
To say I was excited to learn that this wonderful musical was coming to my favourite London theatre, The Old Vic, would be as big an understatement as if I was to say that I was indifferent towards cats. So my swellegant brother (High Society pun) won some sibling points by buying me some tickets for my birthday. We had a long wait (tickets bought in January, tickets for June), but boy, was it worth it.
The Old Vic’s adaptation of this wonderful musical was spellbinding in every sense. The theatre has been transformed in recent years to be “in the round”, meaning that the stage is in the centre and there are seats for the audience all around the stage, rather than just in front of the stage. This immersive style was made even more special with the ‘household staff’ actors darting around as people took their seats. In the round theatre is very intimate and raw, as you are so close to the actors and the action, plus they are at ground level while everyone else is raised above them.
The entire ensemble is noteworthy, but I particularly loved Tracy, played by Grace Kelly in the film and by the refreshingly waspish Kate Fleetwood in the play (her cheekbones deserve their own blog post - wowsers!). It would have been so easy to cast a Grace Kelly-alike to re-enact the performance, but instead she was given a new lease of life and a new look. The same could be said of Mike, the character that Frank Sinatra made so charismatic in the film, who was given a slightly harder demeanour in the play, but whose comic timing was impeccable.
The opening scene also really gets the audience in the party mood and really involved with the cast. I won’t give any spoilers, but it was totally unique and fresh. We loved it and the singer Joe Stilgoe.
I don’t think I could advise you strongly enough to go and see this performance, it is the best theatre production I have ever seen in London (and I’ve seen A LOT!). But you best be quick, as it finishes on Saturday 22nd August and you don’t want to miss this swell party.
You can buy your tickets here.
By Carina Sullivan