Theatre Review: High Society at Royal & Derngate

High Society.
High Society.

The popularity of musicals can often be gauged by how many audience members turn up dressed as the characters.

By this measurement it was obvious that High Society was going to be a crowd favourite by the number of women wearing cocktail dresses and men in suits and bow ties on the opening night of its six-night run at Royal & Derngate.

Adapted from the hit 1956 film starring screen legends Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, the musical takes the audience back to the golden age of tap dancing, beautiful ballads and family-friendly comedy.

The plot centres around the wedding of wealthy socialite Tracy Lord to a rich but humourless businessman called George Kittredge.

Unfortunately for Tracy, her ex-husband Dexter Haven, played by Michael Praed, star of BBC1’s Robin of Sherwood, turns up to try to win her back and she is also pursued by a charming reporter sent to write a report of the wedding.

Despite many of the songs being more than 50 years old, the cast breathe new life into classic tunes created by the legendary Cole Porter.

A personal favourite included a beautifully choreographed performance of Let’s Misbehave, set in the kitchen of the house and ending with the majority of the cast linked arm in arm doing a slow can-can.

Other timeless classics which had the audience tapping their feet included Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Well Did You Evah? and You’re Sensational.

Sophie Bould, playing the part of Tracy Lord, leads the production with effortless grace and class reminiscent of Grace Kelly in her prime.

Although not packed with laugh-out-loud jokes, sharp and witty one-liners are provided by the character of Liz Imbrie, played by Alex Young, who unwittingly becomes a magnet of attraction for the lecherous Uncle Willie.

A special mention also has to go to 17-year-old Katie Lee, playing the part of Dinah Lord, who lit up the stage with her smile and enthusiasm.

Praed also demonstrates his classy acting and singing ability during the farcical conclusion to the show in which he ends up singing a romantic rendition of True Love with the leading lady.

High Society is highly recommended to anyone who wants to enjoy a delightfully entertaining tribute to the ‘golden age’ of Hollywood.

The musical will run at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday, April 13, with evening performances at 7.30pm and matinees on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets cost from £14 to £34.50. To book call the box office on Northampton 624811 or go to www.royalandderngate.co.uk.