The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp LondonLondon Review
High Society
by Lizzie Loveridge

Have you heard it's in the stars
Next July we collide with Mars,
Well, did you evah
What a swell and elegant party this is!

--- Well, Did You Evah
High Society
Claire Redcliffe as Dinah, Peter Forbes as Seth Lord and Brigit Forsyth as Mother Lord
(Photo: Alistair Muir)
Crowning this year's successful programme at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park is a full scale production of the film musical High Society with the music of Cole Porter. This has proved such a hit with the theatre's dedicated audience that sell out performances encouraged the theatre to extend it well into September before the press had written a word of praise. In many ways it is a charming production, beautifully set and dressed, well acted and competently sung.

Few of the London audience can have seen anything other than the film which was such a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the divine Grace Kelly before she became a real princess. This is the version my editor reviewed in New York five years ago. (the review). The first of the additional numbers, "I love Paris" is incongruous and seems not to advance the plot but it is still a very good tune with great lyrics.

I was struck by the parallels between High Society's journalists from the fictional Spy magazine and OK or Hello Magazine buying the rights to celebrity weddings like those of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. There is plenty of social comment about the Lord's lifestyle and some good comedy, especially as Tracy battles her hangover on her wedding day in dark glasses.

Truly great songs are there too, "True Love", "Well, Did You Evah (What a Swell Party)" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" remind us that they don't write them like that nowadays! Another imported song, "Let's Misbehave" is presented as a big band number as Tracy throws back the champagne. These are the numbers you will be singing as you leave the park.

Much of the choreography relies on black and white formally dressed maids and valets dancing with silver salvers and serving trolleys but they convey the moneyed lifestyle of Tracy Samantha Lloyd (Annette McLaughlin) and her family. The setting is outdoor and delightful, a miniature Long Island house poised above the action in the middle of the topiary hedges, ornate garden chairs with scrolled arms painted white and an elegant table.

Leggy and blonde, Annette McLaughlin sings well and is a joy when squiffy as she gets plastered on champagne with the journalist Mike (Hal Fowler) who has the best singing voice of the men. I was taken with handsome Dale Rapley's laid back charm as Tracy's first husband and recovering alcoholic, Dexter Haven. Tracie Bennett is the journalist Liz Imbrie, strong singing support who gets her own solo in "He's a Right Guy". Claire Redcliffe has to play Dinah, the annoying teenager, but she convinced me that she was Tracy's little sister in an outrageous pink, beribboned bridesmaid's frock. Brigit Forsyth and Peter Forbes are Tracy's sympathetic parents who mend their marriage in the course of the play. Walter van Dyk's white wavy haired George Kittredge, Tracy's stuffy, Southern accented fiancé, is totally without charm in his deliberately flesh creeping rendition of the "I Worship You". We all breathe a sigh of relief when he is despatched.

This may not be the slickest production of High Society or musically pitch perfect but the band is strong and the costumes and hats, to die for. The only thing that can spoil this enjoyable evening in its idyllic setting is the rain.

High Society
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Arthur Kopit
Directed by Ian Talbot

With: Annette McLaughlin, Peter Forbes, Brigit Forsyth, Claire Redcliffe, Brian Green, Dale Rapley, Walter van Dyk, Hal Fowler, Tracie Bennett, John Conroy, Jamie Beamish, John Stacey, Penny Belle-Fowler, Neil Ditt, David Galloway, Vivien Care, Lucy Cound, Gerard Carey
Designer: Paul Farnsworth
Musical Director: Catherine Jayes
Arranger: Steven Edis
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor
Sound: Simon Whitehorn
Choreography: Gillian Gregory
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with one interval .
Box Office: 020 7486 2431
Booking to 13th September 2003
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 24th July 2003 Performance at the Open Air Theatre Regents Park, London NW1 (Tube Station: Baker Street)

Mendes at the Donmar
Our Review

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook
London Sketchbook

Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from