As for Top Hat, the revival of the famous old Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical, no other critic gave it a review that glowed quite as much as mine did. My words may be emblazoned on all of its advertising, but I wonder to what extent I counted in terms of turning this one into such a big success. My guess is that even if every critic in the capital had panned it, it would still have succeeded on the basis of word of mouth.
Enthusiasm for the show proved infectious and I can see why. Matthew White, its director, is a perfectionist. He knows it is the little things as much as the big things that matter – such as making sure that all the top hats that were seen on the stage were made out out of silk – and the whole thing just works, perfectly.
Irving Berlin’s ageless music and lyrics had something to do with it too, of course, and the renditions of “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and, of course, “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” will, I wager, have had the punters singing in their baths for months afterwards. If there has been a more sublimely performed, choreographed, orchestrated and costumed musical in the past 25 years, then I certainly haven’t seen it.
Actress of the Year? Well, that’s predictable from this critic: Summer Strallen for Top Hat.