Tip Top Tap Dancing and Tunes by Irving Berlin


“I went to a funeral and caught the bouquet!”


Jonny Labey as Jerry Travers and cast (Photo: Andreas Lambis)
Top Hat started life as a 1935 movie with the dancing talents of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  It is only in recent years (2011) that the staged musical which had some of Irving Berlin’s famous tunes added to it, was conceived.  
It is a very ambitious undertaking for a small dinner theatre like The Mill at Sonning to put it on, but with song and dance professionals Jonny Labey as Jerry Travers, and Billie-Kay as Dale Tremont, it is a breeze!  
The wonderful Art Deco set was made especially for the theatre and the colours change for each of the three locations, Paris, London and the Venetian Lido.   
Billie-Kay as Dale Tremont ands Jonny Labey as Jerry Travers. (Photo: Andreas Lambis)
The story is pretty easy to follow:  Broadway star dancer Jerry Travers meets model Dale Tremont when she complains about him tap dancing, in her hotel on the floor above her room. Through a misunderstanding about some flowers sent to her, she thinks he is being unfaithful to her friend Madge (Julie J Nagle), and is a married man.   Madge’s husband Horace Hardwick (Paul Kemble) is Travers’s manager.  Dale agrees to fly to Italy with her Italian fashion designer and suitor Alberto Beddini (Andy Rees) and accepts his proposal of marriage.  Thank goodness Hardwick’s enterprising butler Bates (Brendan Cull) is there to save the day. 
The Irving Berlin tunes are to die for.  From the Overture introduction we know we are in for a musical treat, the first delight being “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.  The penultimate song is the wildly romantic, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”  but in between we have “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”,  “Wild About You” and  “Cheek to Cheek”.   
Julia J Nagle as a dancer and cast. (Photo: Andreas Lambis)
Jonny Labey is a tap dancer par excellence;  Billie-Kay is his match.  No seat in the Mill is more than six rows from the stage and all seats have great sightlines.  He is also a fine actor with a gift for comedy.   
You will love the period set detailing and the glorious costumes. You’ll thirst for the onstage cocktails cleverly made not to spill when danced with! Of course there is an army of maids and hotel porters in perfect uniforms who quick change to double as hotel guests and rich Venetians.  
In “Cheek to Cheek” Billie-Kay as Dale Tremont wears a frock, the skirt covered in ostrich feathers similar to the one Ginger Rogers wore which got up Fred Astaire’s nose!   The original had $1000 of ostrich feathers, some of which flew off as Astaire threw Rogers about.  In his autobiography Astaire described the incident as looking like “a chicken had been attacked by a coyote”.   
Well the Mill’s wardrobe have ensured their feathers stay on!  You may have heard the jokes before but they still make you smile.  Enjoy this spectacular seasonal treat in Sonning as everyone did the day we saw it.   
Billie-Kay as Dale Tremont and Jonny Labey as Jerry Travers. (Photo: Andreas Lambis)

Musical Numbers

Act One


Puttin’ On The Ritz 

No Strings 

Hotel Sequence 

I’m Putting All My Eggs in One


Isn’t This A Lovely Day

(To Be Caught In The Rain) 

You’re Easy To Dance  With 

What Is Love? 

Top Hat, White Tie And Tails 

Act Two


The Piccolino 

Non Scacciarmi Mai (Part 1)

Non Scacciarmi Mai (Part 2)

Piccolino Waiter’s Reprise

Wild About You 

Cheek To Cheek 

Better Luck Next Time

Latins Know How 

Let’s Face The Music And Dance

Outside Of That I Love You


Production Notes

Top Hat

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin

Based on the RKO Motion Picture

Book by Matthew White and Howard Jacques

Directed  by Jonathan O’Boyle



Andy Rees


Brendan Cull

Jonny Labey

Julia J Nagle

Paul Kemble


Hannah Amin

Joe Boyle

George Deller

Nathan Elwick

Gabriela Gregorian

Leah Harris

Reece Kerridge

Greta McKinnon


Director:  Jonathan O’Boyle

Choreographer: Ashley Nottingham

Set Designer: Jason Denvir

Costume Designer:  Natalie Titchener

Musical Arranger and Director: Francis Goodhand

Lighting Designer:  Nic Farman

Sound Designer: Chris Whybrow


Running Time: Two hours 35 minutes with an interval

Booking until 30th December 2021 



The Mill at Sonning Theatre 

Sonning Eye


RG4 6TY 

Website: millatsonning.com

Box Office: (0118) 969 8000

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Mill at Sonning

on 26th November 2022