The Mill at Sonning - High Society
24th November 2016 to 14th January 2017.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
What a swell party this is
Christmas sparkles at The Mill at Sonning
High Society, at The Mill at Sonning, until January 14
First seen as the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story, with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, High Society was a sparkling 1956 musical movie with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Chosen for their Christmas production at the Mill, this show certainly sparkles all over the place and makes very good use of the venue's small stage.
Designer Ryan Laight has created the illusion of a sumptuous mansion with his high sets and big windows. Familiar to many people by now, the narrative tells the story of socialite Tracy Lord's lavish New England wedding where, unexpectedly, her ex-husband, played sturdily by Andrew Alexander, and a magazine writer and photographer, played neatly by Sandy Batchelor and Gemma Maclean, turn up.
The father and mother of the bride were played by Nigel Barber and Elizabeth Elvin. David Delve was very good as Uncle Willie, a comic turn that gave him plenty of scope. Joel Elferink did well as the very boring George Kettering and Kirsty Ingram as Tracy's sister proved to be a fine actor, singer and, impressively, ballet dancer. Tracy played vigorously as a rather selfish, heartless but extremely attractive young woman by Bethan Nash, created several different moods throughout the length of the show. All the actors proved to be more than competent at singing (in tune), something not all theatrical musicals manage.
It is the chemistry between Tracy, her ex and Mike the magazine reporter that ignites sparks throughout and causes the hapless George to wonder what he is getting himself into and whether it is worthwhile. This production kept the action, the music and the dancing flowing constantly, due to the sure-footed direction and choreography of Joseph Pitcher. Charlie Ingles was musical director.
The show worked well, demonstrating how a small space can be made to look big and impressive, incorporating, as it did, not just a posh residence but a swimming pool – and how about the musicians, poised up in sort of bird cages at the top of the sets?
All in all then, an entertaining show for Christmas, lacking a wicked baron or stepmother but more than compensating with the timeless music and lyrics of Cole Porter. Who wants to be a millionaire? Everybody in this show.
There is a review from The Stage ("smart, pared down production featuring some lively choreography and strong characterisation" - 3 stars).