Director: Emma Rogers
Choreographer: Emma Rogers
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
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’twant 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