Seventy six years after its movie release, Top Hat will receive its world stage premiere at the Milton Keynes Theatre on 16 August 2011 where it opens for the start of an initial 17 UK week tour prior to an anticipated West End transfer in spring 2012. With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and based on the RKO motion picture, the screenplay by Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott has been adapted for the stage by Matthew White and Howard Jacques and is presented by arrangement with RKO Pictures LLC, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures Inc. and the Irving Berlin Music Company.
Directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer, Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen take the lead roles of Dale Tremont and Jerry Travers, played in the movie by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They are joined by Martin Ball and Vivien Parry playing husband and wife Horace and Madge Hardwick, Ricardo Afonso as Alberto Beddini and Stephen Boswell as Horace’s valet Bates. Further casting details will be announced shortly. Set designs are by 2011 Laurence Olivier Award Winner Hildegard Bechtler, with costume designs by Jon Morrell, lighting design by Peter Mumford, musical direction by Daniel Jackson, musical supervision by Richard Balcombe, new orchestrations provided by Chris Walker and sound by Gareth Owen.
Jerry Travers (Tom Chambers), the famous American tap dancer, arrives in London to appear in his first West End show. Travers meets the irresistible Dale Tremont (Summer Strallen), the girl of his dreams, who follows her across Europe in an attempt to win her heart.
After opening in Milton Keynes the production will tour to Birmingham, Southampton, Salford Quays, Plymouth, Norwich, Canterbury, Edinburgh and Leeds prior to transferring into the West End in the Spring of 2012.
Nominated for four Academy Awards Top Hat is widely regarded as one of the greatest dance musicals of all time and the most successful picture of the nine movies Astaire and Rogers made together. Top Hat premiered at the Radio City Music Hall where it broke all box office records.
Performed by a cast of 31 and accompanied by a live band of 15, this new musical comedy will include Irving Berlin classics from the movie such as Cheek to Cheek, Isn’t It a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain and Top Hat White Tie and Tails. In addition, from Berlin’s 1200 strong back catalogue, a further ten numbers have been interpolated including Let’s Face the Music and Dance, I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket and Gentleman Prefer Blondes.
Tom Chambers was winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2008 with his partner Camilla Dallerup. On television he is also well known as surgeon Sam Strachan in Holby City, a role he played for three years. He most recently starred in the sold out production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at The Sunderland Empire. After studying at the National Youth Music Theatre and Guildford School of Acting, Chambers went on to star in the British film Fakers. Last year he joined the cast of the BBC Drama Waterloo Road as Head Teacher Max Tyler. His other theatre credits include productions for the Young Vic, Sadler’s Wells, Derby Playhouse and the Lyric Hammersmith.
Summer Strallen created the role of Meg Giry in Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre, for which she was nominated for Best Performance for a Supporting Role in a Musical at the 2011 Olivier Awards. Previously she has been seen on stage as Maria in The Sound of Music at the London Palladium, Janet Van Der Graaf in The Drowsy Chaperone at the Novello for which she was Olivier Award nominated, the title role in Dick Whittington at the Barbican and Maisie in The Boy Friend for the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park for which she was also Olivier Award nominated. On film and television her credits include Hotel Babylon, Beyond the Sea and Hollyoaks.
Martin Ball is currently playing the role of Thenardier in Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre. His other West End credits include Wicked at the Apollo Victoria and MAMMA MIA! at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Regionally his theatre credits include the UK Tour of Mary Poppins, Dead Funny at the Nottingham Playhouse, Charley’s Aunt at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre and Absent Friends at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. His television credits include My Family, New Tricks, Trial & Retribution, Doctor Who, Doctors, Hotel Babylon and The Thick of It.
Vivien Parry has most recently been seen on stage in Shakespeare’s Will and Great Expectations at theatr Clwyd. Her other theatre credits include Memory at The Pleasance, Macbeth and Arcadia both at theatr Clwyd, The Swing of Things at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, MAMMA MIA! at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Boston Marriage at the Bolton Octagon and The Ashgirl at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Her television credits include Crash, The Bill, Outside The Rules and The Bench.
Ricardo Afonso is currently starring in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in the principal role of Galileo. Recently he performed as lead vocalist in Strictly Come Dancing - The Professionals tour and has appeared twice in The Night of 1000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall. His recording credits include Dreamer for the album based on the Terry Pratchett book Only You Can Save Mankind, and The Meerkat Muchachos for the album Bush Tales. Afonso is also one of the regular singers for the ongoing summer concerts A Rock and Symphonic Spectacular since 2007.
Stephen Boswell was seen on stage earlier this year in Double Falsehood at the Union Theatre. His other theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing at the Liverpool Playhouse, the national tours of Round The Horne: Unseen & Uncut, Round the Horne – Revisited and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Othello at the Northampton Royal Theatre and Greenwich, Life is a Dream at the Young Vic, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Theatre Royal Bristol and The Shoemaker’s Holiday at the Leeds Playhouse. His film credits include Ali G in Da House, Chaos and Cadavers and South Kensington. His television credits include Kingdom, Murder City, Down to Earth, The Bill and Casualty.
Matthew White most recently directed Sweet Charity and Little Shop of Horrors both for the Menier Chocolate Factory, both of which transferred to the West End. His other directing credits include The Black and White Ball at the King’s Head, The Magic Flute for the Peacock Theatre, Far From the Madding Crowd for the Watermill Theatre, Maria Friedman – by Special Arrangement for the Donmar Warehouse, as well as national tours of Carousel and The Demon Headmaster.
Top Hat is produced by Kenny Wax, and his partners on the production are Lee Menzies, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley.