Puttin On the Ritz Review 4*

By Herald Express Torquay Herald Express | Mon 08 Aug 2016

Puttin on the Ritz gets a glitzy 4 stars !!!

By Herald Express Torquay Herald Express | Mon 08 Aug 2016

Puttin' On The Ritz
Wonder Productions and Bijou Theatre Productions
Palace Theatre, Paignton
Runs every Wednesday in August

FORGET your troubles, c'mon get happy, by heading for the Palace Theatre every Wednesday night for the next few weeks.

There you will find an evening of Hollywood glamour, nostalgia and a selection of some of the greatest Hollywood musical songs of all time.

In a joint production by Bijou Theatre and Wonder Productions, the golden age of musicals is rediscovered in this show which includes such hits as Singin' in the Rain, Too Darn Hot and I Got Rhythm.

Opening with a short video of some of the most famous clips of musicals from the 40s and 50s, the tone is set for a night of glitz and foot tapping fun.

Resplendent in evening gowns and tuxedos, the performers slide effortlessly from one song to the next, each delivered with a slightly different presentation, including short dance numbers and company interaction.

The format worked extremely well and keeping the staging simple allowed the songs and the singers to do the work.

Katie Bottoms, Sarah Louise Caplan, Aaron Kitts, Craig Northway, Ilona Richardson and Ruby Washington took turns in the spotlight, each performing numbers perfectly suited to their talents.

Highlights for me included Craig Northway's One for My baby, which he delivered in a relaxed and languid style, which was perfect for his richly toned voice.

Sarah Louise Caplan's performance of Everything's Coming up Roses was performed with expert timing and a mature and instinctive understanding of the power of musical theatre.

But worth the ticket money on its own was being able to hear Ruby Washington's version of Summertime.

This song, sung to death over the years, was phrased beautifully, sounded original, atmospheric and note perfect.

I would have liked to have seen a little more set/costume contrast in the first half.

The problem with having a fully black set and then dressing performers in black is they blend in with the scenery but in Act Two this problem was overcome with a dazzling display of sequin dresses.

I also enjoyed the simple use of a few props to enhance the performances and bring to life the narrative of some of the songs.

The production was stylishly delivered and, although some of the performers had stronger voices than others, the song choices were appropriately distributed.

There were times, however, when those with less powerful voices seemed drowned out by the level of the backing tracks, and a little sound balancing during those numbers would have been appropriate, but despite that, every member of the company was engaged and animated throughout, supporting each other's numbers and reacting to their content.

I found it to be an extremely relaxing theatrical experience, and a welcome return to the golden age of musical theatre.

Songs as memorable as this deserve special attention and this celebration of some of our greatest songs and songwriters, reminds us of the wealth of material Hollywood provided for the stage.

This is a stylish and classy affair which will have you humming these golden tunes, all the way home.

Puttin' on the Ritz runs at the Palace Theatre, Paignton every Wednesday in August


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