High Society marks the end of Kevin Spacey’s tenure as Artistic Director at the Old Vic. It’s the perfect way to end those ten years; a giddy and joyful production, celebrating great performances and entertainment for entertainment’s sake.
Adapted from the 1956 film (which itself was adapted from the 1939 play and 1940 film, The Philadelphia Story), the story has everything you could possibly one – ex-husbands, weddings, champagne and undercover reporters, with almost every Cole Porter song under the sun thrown in for good measure. Perhaps I’m a little biased (I do love Cole Porter), and can overlook some of the pacing issues – the music is just so good.
And the performances. Kate Fleetwood’s wonderful Tracy Lord (with cheekbones to rival the original Tracy, Katharine Hepburn) is majestic. She balances the cruel coldness of Tracy with a joie de vivre and irresistible humour, cutting a striking figure on the stage. Jamie Parker continues to cement his reputation as a great leading man in British musicals as the slightly sleazy but earnest Mike Conners. But the star of the show is Joe Stillgoe, whose dazzling piano duet with bandleader Theo Jamieson was incredible.
From a beautiful lighting design to breath-taking choreography, from sublime romance to equally sublime comedy, its one of those shows that leaves you in the most wonderful mood. What a swell party it is.