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LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp London Review
by Lizzie Loveridge
Few of the London audience can have seen anything other than the film which was such a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the divine Grace Kelly before she became a real princess. This is the version my editor reviewed in New York five years ago. (the review). The first of the additional numbers, "I love Paris" is incongruous and seems not to advance the plot but it is still a very good tune with great lyrics.
I was struck by the parallels between High Society's journalists from the fictional Spy magazine and OK or Hello Magazine buying the rights to celebrity weddings like those of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. There is plenty of social comment about the Lord's lifestyle and some good comedy, especially as Tracy battles her hangover on her wedding day in dark glasses.
Truly great songs are there too, "True Love", "Well, Did You Evah (What a Swell Party)" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" remind us that they don't write them like that nowadays! Another imported song, "Let's Misbehave" is presented as a big band number as Tracy throws back the champagne. These are the numbers you will be singing as you leave the park.
Much of the choreography relies on black and white formally dressed maids and valets dancing with silver salvers and serving trolleys but they convey the moneyed lifestyle of Tracy Samantha Lloyd (Annette McLaughlin) and her family. The setting is outdoor and delightful, a miniature Long Island house poised above the action in the middle of the topiary hedges, ornate garden chairs with scrolled arms painted white and an elegant table.
Leggy and blonde, Annette McLaughlin sings well and is a joy when squiffy as she gets plastered on champagne with the journalist Mike (Hal Fowler) who has the best singing voice of the men. I was taken with handsome Dale Rapley's laid back charm as Tracy's first husband and recovering alcoholic, Dexter Haven. Tracie Bennett is the journalist Liz Imbrie, strong singing support who gets her own solo in "He's a Right Guy". Claire Redcliffe has to play Dinah, the annoying teenager, but she convinced me that she was Tracy's little sister in an outrageous pink, beribboned bridesmaid's frock. Brigit Forsyth and Peter Forbes are Tracy's sympathetic parents who mend their marriage in the course of the play. Walter van Dyk's white wavy haired George Kittredge, Tracy's stuffy, Southern accented fiancé, is totally without charm in his deliberately flesh creeping rendition of the "I Worship You". We all breathe a sigh of relief when he is despatched.
This may not be the slickest production of High Society or musically pitch perfect but the band is strong and the costumes and hats, to die for. The only thing that can spoil this enjoyable evening in its idyllic setting is the rain.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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