REVIEW: High Society – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

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Wealthy socialite Tracy Lord is in the midst of planning her lavish summer wedding to dull but reliable George Kittredge, when ex-husband, C. Dexter-Haven turns up to disrupt the proceedings in an attempt to win her back.

Meanwhile the notorious Spy magazine, in possession of embarrassing information about Tracy’s father, sends reporter Mike Connor and photographer Liz Imbrie to cover the nuptials. Tracy begins an elaborate charade as a means of revenge on the pair, pretending that her Uncle Willy is her father Seth Lord and vice-versa. To complicate matters Connor falls in love with Tracy. Amid the farce she must choose between three very different men. As the day of the wedding draws nearer we’re left guessing which groom the bride will eventually choose.

There are few musicals that are as beloved as High Society, starting life in 1939 with Philip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story, then coupled with the classic songs of Cole Porter for the 1956 MGM musical, even the hardest of hearts can’t fail to enjoy this tale of true love.

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This production oozes class from start to finish, reminiscent not only of a time and way of life gone by, but also a style of musical from another era. That said, with both Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat riding high in the West End, the public’s appetite for golden era shows is at a peak, and indeed the packed house at this performance is testament to that.

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The cast, principals and ensemble alike, carry the show with refinement and skill. Michael Praed ( C. Dexter Haven) and Sophie Bould (Tracy Lord) both turn in highly polished, delicately refined performances: deftly handling the glorious songs of Cole Porter as well as the moments of drama and comedy.

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In support Teddy Kempner as roguish Uncle Willie raises the biggest laughs and little sister Dinah (Katie Lee) is the 12 year-old voice of reason in the piece.

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As reporters Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie, Daniel Boys and Alex Young provide a healthy disregard for the ways of these high society folk, the highlight of Boys’ performance being his delivery of the classic You’re Sensational. However, Young’s tendency to resort to comic voices in almost every line she delivers only serves to garble much of what she says and grates as the show goes on.

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Special mention must go to the ensemble who are particularly slick here: executing the intricate and period-perfect choreography of award-winning Andrew Wright flawlessly. The set design by Francis Connor and the beautiful lighting by the talented Chris Davey are also particularly effective.

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This is pure escapism, go along and allow this show to take you on a beautifully performed, picture perfect journey to a world of glamour and style.

High Society comes to Glasgow from 30th April to 4th May – tickets and information here 

All production photographs copyright Pamela Raith 2013 – http://pamelaraith.com/ 

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