Tag Archives: Simon Schofield

REVIEW: Puttin’ On The Ritz – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Taking as its inspiration the early 20th century American songbook, and capitalising on the nation’s obsession with nostalgia, Puttin’ on the Ritz is billed as “a song and dance extravaganza” featuring almost 50 pieces of music from the Golden Age of Hollywood. With songs from the greatest of the greats: George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, the audience can’t claim they’ve been short changed on content.

Presented as a cabaret style review, the team of six vocalists and ten dancers deliver a whirlwind trip back in time accompanied by special guests, and Strictly Come Dancing favourites, Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor.

The production has toured previously but seems now considerably tighter than before: the core vocalists instead of having a guest singer, this time have guest dancers, and the production is all the better for it, if your regular vocalists are of a high quality why have more?

The sextet of singers are hugely experienced stage performers and do justice to these classic tunes. Ricky Rojas in particular striking a chord with the audience as the only cast member to go marginally off-script and break the fourth wall to encourage a sing-along in his numbers ‘Let There be Love’ and ‘Birth of the Blues’. Fans of Boardwalk Empire will also appreciate Adam Ellis’ almost Eddie Cantor like turn in his featured performances.

The choreography is also sharper this time around, particularly in ‘Anything Goes’, ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it Ain’t Got That Swing) and in the Cotton Club sequence, and as ever the onstage action is complemented by multiple, glamorous costume changes throughout. The dance interludes by Rihanoff and Windsor also deserve praise,  providing as they do a change of dynamic that punctuates the evening nicely.

Very much playing to its more mature target audience, it covers much the same ground that recent productions such as The Songbook of Judy Garland and musicals Top Hat and Anything Goes do, but it can be easily forgiven as who wouldn’t want the glorious music of Gershwin, Porter and Berlin ringing in their ears.

An undemanding but highly entertaining celebration of this magical music.

Runs until Sat 13th June 2015 then touring

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at http://www.thepublicreviews.com/puttin-on-the-ritz-kings-theatre-glasgow/

REVIEW: Puttin’ on the Ritz – Playhouse, Edinburgh

The appeal of music from the golden age of movie musicals would seem to be endless.With shows like Top Hat, Singin’ in the Rain and 42nd Street currently or recently completing tours, it’s no surprise that Spirit Productions have launched their self-proclaimed ‘song and dance extravaganza’ Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Utilising the music of the big three; Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin, the show features six vocalists, a troupe of sixteen dancers and special guest star Lorna Luft. Taking the form of a musical review, the action moves along at a brisk pace, each classic hit segueing into the next on a whistle-stop tour of the greatest hits of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’.

Whilst each featured vocalist is entirely competent, the dancers adept, the choreography inventive and the costumes and set suitably glittery, the whole affair is lacking a certain sparkle. The singers appear under-amplified in the cavernous auditorium, the sound failing to reach or make any impact on the circle where this reviewer was seated. The projection screen titles and flat introductions by the cast members also fail to build any rapport with the audience; a bit of chat would have gone a long way to drawing the audience in.

Special guest star Luft, the daughter of arguably the greatest movie musical star of all time, Judy Garland, appears briefly in each act singing a selection of her mother’s most famous songs. Her presence on the bill, undoubtedly the major draw, adds a direct connection to the songs we are experiencing here, and she endeavours to conjur up a rapport with the crowd, sharing some Hollywood anecdotes and revealing that Garland’s ancestors were from Aberdeen to curry a bit of favour with the locals. But it just isn’t enough and her appearance is all too brief.

There is no question that the raw material is all here, the music of the great American Songbook is amongst the greatest ever written, each of the performers undoubtedly talented, but on the whole Puttin’ on the Ritz is lacking that certain something that makes for a truly great night at the theatre.

Runs until 20 September 2014