Category Archives: Reviews

Review of Top Hat – 5 Stars


Top Hat

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 15th December 2017


“Clifton and Lay embody the charm and sophistication of the era.”


In this classic dance musical comedy, we meet Broadway star Jerry Travers and follow him in his attempt to win the affections of socialite Dale Tremont. Ovation presents the London fringe premiere of a musical that has been delighting audiences since the release of the celebrated 1935 film version starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Joshua Lay and Joanne Clifton are a fantastic pairing as Jerry and Dale. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and watching their love story unfold is a delight. The shoes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers were always going to be big ones to fill, but Clifton and Lay do them justice and embody the charm and sophistication of the era.

From the principals to the ensemble, the rest of the cast’s performances are of a high standard. Much of the comedy comes from theatre producer Horace Hardwick (Darren Benedict), his valet, Bates (Samuel Haughton), and fashion designer Alberto Beddini (Matthew James Willis). Ellen Verenieks should also be mentioned for her confident portrayal of Horace’s wife, Madge.

The limited space available is used very effectively, with Upstairs at the Gatehouse making use of traverse staging, as opposed to its usual thrust layout. Some of the action takes place on a raised platform at one end of the stage, which can be seen well from all angles and is a good addition. However, director John Plews does not overuse it and the rest of the stage is covered well, particularly during dance numbers.

The production’s choreography is slick, particularly, and unsurprisingly, the tap dancing. Looking at the space available, you’d be forgiven for wondering how the dancers would be able to pull off big, show stopping numbers, but the staging actually works to their advantage. The audience is treated to an “up-close and personal” experience and can truly appreciate the details in the choreography that is, indeed, show stopping.

Top Hat is a timeless classic and any production following the film and successful West End run has a lot to live up to. This fringe production does not disappoint and is packed full of stunning choreography and classic songs such as “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. Charming from start to finish.


Reviewed by Emily K Neal



Top Hat

is at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 28th January 2018



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Review of The Very Hungry Caterpillar – 4 Stars


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Ambassadors Theatre

Reviewed – 14th December 2017


“huge polka-dot donkeys, bright yellow cows and sparkly seahorses”


Ask almost anyone whether they know the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar and you will be met with sighs of nostalgia and fond memories of childhood. It’s a colourful and vibrant tale of a small caterpillar that, over the course of a week, consumes a vast amount of food. What is particularly exciting is the last day, in which he chomps his way through a junk food feast.

Although I am not a child, nor do I have a child, I enjoyed this performance because I was absolutely blown away by the puppetry and the set. With creations from The Puppet Kitchen (Disney Theme Parks, San Diego Zoo, NYCity Opera), the audience are captivated – especially the children! – by huge polka-dot donkeys, bright yellow cows and sparkly seahorses.

The cast (Sarah Hamilton, Andrew Cullimore, Adam Ryan and additional puppeteer Tim Dal Corvito) let their puppeteering skills do the talking but also demonstrate skills in dance. I quite enjoyed the synchronised puppet movements – you couldn’t take your eyes off the stage.

As well as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, three more of Eric Carle’s tales were brought to life – The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse and The Very Lonely Firefly. The set was a magical portal that allowed such versatility in terms of where the story could go next. Designed by David Goldstein (Daryl Roth Theatre, Minetta Lane Theatre) each story felt like a completely new performance in a completely new space.

I feel as though this show represents children’s theatre at it’s best and that in a modern world where children reach for entertainment in the form of their parents’ iPhone, we should be celebrating more visual and educational methods of story telling. This show does just that.



Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

Photography by Pamela Raith 



The Very Hungry Caterpillar

is at the Ambassadors Theatre until 7th January 2017



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