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High Society review at the Mill at Sonning – ‘lively choreography’

As metaphors go, the yacht True Love is a fairly clumsy one, but it acts as a linchpin to the Cole Porter’s musical comedy High Society and provided the composer with one of his most enduring melodies.

The rest of the score is a sparkling concoction brimming with witty rhymes and memorable tunes such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, I Love Paris and Well, Did You Evah? The show comes with some weighty baggage, not least star turns in the movie version from Sinatra and Crosby.

Joseph Pitcher’s production for the Mill’s first Christmas musical may feature a pared down design but the director/choreographer understandably invests it with a good deal on movement. The choreography is precise, the pace sometimes frenetic but never overpowering either Porter’s numbers or Arthur Kopit’s urbane script. There are hints of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the second act, albeit fuelled by alcoholism and class snobbery, and while the plot resolution may not bear too much scrutiny there’s fun to be had along the way.

Pitcher’s company are a versatile troupe, with Bethan Nash as Tracy and Andrew Alexander as Dexter reconciling the love story with conviction. It’s a difficult one to call however because Sandy Batchelor as budding novelist Mike Connor sings a version of You’re Sensational that both melts the heart and almost stops the show. There’s also some great comic timing from veteran David Delve as the lascivious Uncle Willie and newcomer Kirsty Ingram as the diminutive Dinah Lord.

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Verdict
Smart, pared down production featuring some lively choreography and strong characterisation

Production Information

Production
High Society
Venue
Mill at Sonning
City
Sonning
Starts
November 24, 2016
Ends
January 14, 2017
Press night
November 30, 2016
Book
Cole Porter (music and lyrics), Arthur Kopit (book)
Music
Cole Porter
Lyrics
Cole Porter (music and lyrics), Arthur Kopit (book)
Director
Joseph Pitcher
Musical director
Charles Ingles
Choreographer
Joseph Pitcher
Set
Ryan Laight
Lighting
Matthew Biss
Sound
Joe Morris
Stage manager
James Neal (stage manager), Carole Brown, Emilie Leger (deputy stage manager)
Production manager
Joan Farnese
Cast includes
Andrew Alexander, Bethan Nash, Gemma Maclean, Sandy Batchelor, Joel Elferink, Kirsty Ingram
Producer
The Mill at Sonning
Running time
2hrs 20mins