Top Hat (musical)

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Top Hat
Top Hat London.jpg
Advertising poster for the original West End cast at the Aldwych Theatre, London
MusicIrving Berlin
LyricsIrving Berlin
BookDwight Taylor/Allan Scott
(original screenplay)
Matthew White/Howard Jacques
BasisRKOs film musical Top Hat
Premiere16 August 2011 (2011-08-16): Milton Keynes Theatre
Productions2011 - UK tour
2012 - West End
2014 - UK & Ireland tour
AwardsLaurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical

Top Hat the Musical is a 2011 stage musical based on the 1935 film of the same name, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin with additional orchestration by Chris Walker. The show opened on 16 August 2011 at the Milton Keynes Theatre, touring the United Kingdom before transferring to the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End. Top Hat won multiple 2013 Laurence Olivier Awards after receiving seven nominations. The musical closed in London on 26 October 2013, with a UK and Ireland tour commencing in August 2014.


The musical is based on the 1935 film of the same name,[1] with music by Irving Berlin.[2] It took the show's producer, Kenny Wax, sixteen months to obtain the rights from Berlin's estate to adapt the film into a stage musical.[3] A first read-through of the adapted script was held at Sadler's Wells[4] in November 2010,[5] and it was performed for the first time 76 years after the original film.[6] The show features fourteen songs by Berlin, six more songs than the original production.[6] Featuring a 31-person cast,[2] the production was adapted from the original screenplay by Matthew White and Howard Jacques.[7] The show was directed by White with choreography by Bill Deamer,[8] set designs by Hildegard Bechtler, costume design by Jon Morrell, lighting by Peter Mumford, sound by Gareth Owen, new orchestrations by Chris Walker and musical supervision by Richard Balcombe.[9]

The producers for the original tour and the West End production originally approached Anton du Beke to play Jerry Travers,[10] before casting Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers[11] in the role originated by Fred Astaire.[10] During the competition Chambers was compared to Astaire,[3] his hero.[12] Astaire's daughter was in the audience for the show's opening in London, and described Chambers as "wonderful": "There will always be comparisons, but what this show has done is bring a version to the world to see for the future".[13] Two of Berlin's daughters described the show as "a beautiful production": "It could definitely give new life to these songs and to Top Hat for a younger generation".[14]

Production history[edit]

The show had its world premiere[2] on 16 August 2011[15][16] at the Milton Keynes Theatre, at the beginning of a 17-week UK tour[2] stopping in Birmingham, Southampton, Salford, Plymouth, Norwich, Canterbury, Edinburgh and Leeds.[17] The original cast included Summer Strallen as Dale Tremont, Tom Chambers as Jerry Travers, Martin Ball as Horace, Vivien Parry as Madge Hardwick, Ricardo Alfonso as Alberto Beddini and Stephen Boswell as Bates.[18][19] An additional pre-West-End tour took place in spring 2012, at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 13–17 March and the Bristol Hippodrome from 21–31 March.[20]

The production then moved to the West End's Aldwych Theatre on 19 April 2012, with its opening night on 9 May[21] and an initial booking until the end of January 2013.[22] Charlotte Gooch took over the role of Dale Tremont in November 2012;[23] on 5 February 2013 Gavin Lee took over the role of Jerry,[24] Broadway star Kristen Beth Williams[25] took over as Dale,[26] Clive Hayward became Horace and Alex Gaumond became Alberto.[27] A final cast change took place after Gaumond left to play Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical:[28] Russell-Leighton Dixon, previously the understudy for Alberto,[19] took over the part.[29] Although the production's run had been extended until April 2014,[30] it closed on 26 October 2013.[31]

A further 47-week tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland commenced at the New Wimbledon Theatre, on 12 August 2014, running until July 2015.[32] Featuring a new cast, the production visited Wimbledon, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Oxford, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Norwich, Canterbury, Plymouth, Southampton, Dublin, Belfast, Sunderland, Woking and Eastbourne.[33] The tour was led by Charlotte Gooch, who reprises the role of Dale, Alan Burkitt as Jerry, Clive Hayward as Horace Hardwick, Rebecca Thornhill as Madge Hardwick, Sebastien Torkia as Alberton Beddini and John Conroy as Bates.[34]


Musical numbers[edit]

The performance runs 2hrs 45mins, including one interval.[15]

Cast album[edit]

Featuring 18 tracks from the London production of Top Hat,[35] the cast album was released by First Night Records[36] on 27 August 2012.[37]

Top Hat - The Musical (Original London Cast Recording)
Top Hat (Cast Cd).jpg
Soundtrack album cast recording by
Released27 August 2012 (2012-08-27)
LabelFirst Night Records
2."Puttin' On the Ritz"2:59
3."No Strings (I'm Fancy Free)"2:53
4."No Strings (Reprise)"1:31
5."I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket"2:08
6."Isn't This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)?"3:44
7."You're Easy to Dance With"2:59
8."What Is Love?"2:02
9."Top Hat, White Tie and Tails"3:46
10."The Piccolino"2:36
11."Wild About You"2:30
12."Cheek to Cheek"4:26
13."Better Luck Next Time"3:03
14."Latins Know How"2:29
15."Let's Face the Music and Dance"2:57
16."Outside of That, I Love You"3:09
17."I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket (Reprise)"1:24

Principal roles and cast members[edit]

The show features a cast of thirty one and a fifteen-member band.[38]

Main characters Original West End actor 2014-2015 UK & Ireland Tour actor[39]
Jerry Travers Tom Chambers Alan Burkitt
Dale Tremont Summer Strallen Charlotte Gooch
Horace Hardwick Martin Ball Clive Hayward
Madge Hardwick Vivien Parry Rebecca Thornhill
Alberto Beddini Ricardo Alfonso Sebastien Torkia
Bates Stephen Boswell John Conroy

Critical reception[edit]

After its world premiere, most Top Hat critics appreciated the spectacle but agreed that the plot was weak; “the plot, for want of a better word, doesn't bear too much close inspection”, said Christopher Hart in the Sunday Times.[40] The musical was also criticised for its length. “The second half could be cut down by a good 15 minutes“, according to Exeunt magazine.[41]

Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote, “The evening can be quickly summed up as 'great songs, daft book'".[42] Paul Taylor of The Independent said, “The producers of this irresistible show, a freely adapted version of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, don't subscribe to the precept of deferred gratification”.[43] London Evening Standard critic Henry Hitchings described the show as “a bit slow hitting its stride”.[44]

Top Hat received positive reviews on blogs, with Zoe Craig describing it on the Londonist as “pure, fun, cheery escapist entertainment”.[45] Bechtler's set design and Deamer’s choreography were praised (“This clever collaboration is clearly evident in every scene transition as the cast dance and interact with the set, making the whole changeover seem like a fluid part of the story")[46] on BestOfTheatre.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Despite its mixed reception by critics, Top Hat won the Best Night Out award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in 2012,[47] won the 2013 Olivier Award[48] for Best New Musical, Best Choreographer (Bill Deamer) and Best Costume Design (Jon Morrell).[49] The musical was also nominated for five Awards.[50]

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2012 Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best Night Out Won[47]
2013 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical[51] Won[52]
Best Actor in a Musical Tom Chambers[51] Nominated[52]
Best Actress in a Musical Summer Strallen[51] Nominated[52]
Best Set Design Hildegard Bechtler[51] Nominated[52]
Best Sound Design Gareth Owen[51] Nominated[52]
Best Costume Design Jon Morrell[51] Won[52]
Best Choreographer Bill Deamer[51] Won[52] Awards Best New Musical[50] Nominated[53]
Best Actor in a Musical Tom Chambers[50] Nominated[53]
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Ricardo Afonso[50] Nominated[53]
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Vivien Parry[50] Nominated[53]
Best Choreographer Bill Deamer[50] Nominated[53]


  1. ^ "This week's new theatre and dance". The Guardian. 14 April 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "Milton Keynes Theatre to stage Top Hat world premiere". BBC News. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Tom Chambers takes classic Astaire role in Top Hat musical". Manchester Evening News. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Top Hat". Top Hat World Premier Production Programme: 21. November 2011.
  5. ^ "Top Hat". Top Hat World Premier Production Programme: 8. November 2011.
  6. ^ a b Youde, Kate (27 November 2011). "Top hat! Return to the golden age of the musical". London: The Independent. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Olivier Award-Winning Top Hat to Shutter at West End's Aldwych Theatre in October; New U.K. Tour to Follow". Playbill. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen to star in Top Hat". The Stage. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  9. ^ "LAST CHANCE TO SEE THREE TIMES OLIVIER AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTION TOP HAT". Top Hat (musical). Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  10. ^ a b "A stroppy co-star, first-night nerves and the terror of stepping into Fred Astaire's dancing shoes: Twinkletoes Tom Chamber confides in Petronella Wyatt". London: Daily Mail. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  11. ^ "Taking on the role of Fred Astaire in Broadway classic Top Hat is 'a dream come true', says Strictly star Tom Chambers". Daily Record. 20 November 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Chambers takes the long route to finally walk in footsteps of his hero Fred Astaire". The Scotsman. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  13. ^ "Top Hat: Fred Astaire's daughter praises Tom Chambers role in musical". BBC News. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  14. ^ "Hats off to Tom and Summer, says Fred Astaire's daughter". London Evening Standard. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d "Top Hat". Top Hat World Premier Production Programme: 17. November 2011.
  16. ^ "Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen Led TOP HAT Opens 8/16". Broadway World. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  17. ^ "Top Hat". Top Hat World Premier Production Programme: 34. November 2011.
  18. ^ "Musicals Cast: Full London Tenor, Top Hat Tour". Whats On Stage. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Top Hat". Top Hat World Premier Production Programme: 18. November 2011.
  20. ^ "Pre-West-End Performances of TOP HAT Begin Tonight". Broadway World. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  21. ^ "Top Hat to transfer into the West End next April". The Stage. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  22. ^ "Top Hat Comes to West End's Aldwych After Tour, 19 Apr". Whats On Stage. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  23. ^ "Top Hat cast changes Charlotte Gooch & Gavin Lee". London Theatre. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  24. ^ "Gavin Lee to Join West End's Top Hat; Charlotte Gooch Also Takes Over". Playbill. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  25. ^ "Kristen Beth Williams, Alex Gaumond and Clive Hayward Will Join Gavin Lee in West End's Top Hat". Playbilll. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  26. ^ "Nice Work's Kristen Beth Williams to Romance Gavin Lee as New Star of the West End's Top Hat". Broadway.Com. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  27. ^ "Top Hat cast changes at the Aldwych Theatre from 5 Feb". London Theatre. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  28. ^ "Alex Gaumond and Kay Murphy join Matilda cast from September". Whats On Stage. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  29. ^ "Cast & Creative". Top Hat (musical). Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  30. ^ "Top Hat extends its booking period to 26 April 2014". London Theatre. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  31. ^ "Top Hat confirms October closure at Aldwych". Whats On Stage. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  32. ^ "Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch to star in Top Hat tour". The Stage. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch lead new Top Hat tour". Whats On Stage. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  34. ^ "Burkitt And Gooch Lead Cast In UK Tour of TOP HAT!". Broadway World. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  35. ^ "Sneak Preview West End's TOP HAT Cast Album Streams on Facebook!". Broadway World. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  36. ^ "London Cast Recordings of Singin' in the Rain and Top Hat to Be Released; Track Listings Announced". Playbill. 3 August 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  37. ^ "Top Hat London Cast Recording". Musical Theatre News. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  38. ^ "OVER 180,000 NEW TICKETS RELEASED FOR WEST END'S TOP HAT". Top Hat. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  39. ^ "Olivier-Winning Top Hat Will Tour; Complete Cast Announced". Playbill. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  40. ^ Top Hat, Aldwych | The Sunday Times
  41. ^ Review of Top Hat at Aldwych Theatre | Exeunt Magazine
  42. ^ Billington, Michael (9 May 2012). "Top Hat - review". The Guardian. London.
  43. ^ "Top Hat, Aldwych Theatre, London WC2 - Reviews - Theatre & Dance - The Independent". The Independent. London.
  44. ^ Top Hat, Aldwych - review - Theatre - Going Out - London Evening Standard
  45. ^ Theatre Review: Top Hat @ The Aldwych Theatre | Londonist
  46. ^ Top Hat Review - Best of Theatre News
  47. ^ a b "Top Hat wins Best Night Out title in Evening Standard Theatre Awards". London Evening Standard. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  48. ^ Hats off to Best New Musical – Laurence Olivier Awards
  49. ^ "Oliviers: Mirren crowned best actress, Curious Incident wins seven". BBC News. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  50. ^ a b c d e f "Whitney Houston musical, The Bodyguard, up for six awards". London: The Telegraph. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  51. ^ a b c d e f g "Olivier awards 2013 full nomination". The Guardian. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  52. ^ a b c d e f g Furness, Hannah (28 April 2013). "Olivier Awards 2013: The results in full". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  53. ^ a b c d e "Full list: Winners announced of the 2013 Awards". Whats On Stage. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2013.

External links[edit]