High Society at the Magical Mill at Sonning
“For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever true
Love forever true “
Dexter and Tracy
High Society the Cole Porter musical is based on The Philadelphia Story which was made into a film with Catherine Hepburn playing Tracy Lord and Cary Grant playing CK Dexter Haven. She’s a rich society girl and she’s actually been married to Dexter. When they were married it was not happy because he had quite a bad problem with alcohol and because she was rather spoiled.
The musical High Society has a rather softer view of the beautiful Tracy (Victoria Serr), who from her Long Island home is getting married again, this time to George Kittredge (Will Richardson). Kittredge is a safe bet as a husband, but really rather stuffy and boring.
Dexter Haven (Matt Blaker) turns up at the wedding with a wonderful present, which is a beautiful model of his yacht, which is called True Love. It was on this yacht that Tracy and Dexter were at their happiest. A rising star known just as Katlo, who plays Tracy’s younger sister Dinah Lord has more intuition about who Tracy should be dating than Tracy herself.
Acting as the subplot to Tracy and Dexter getting together, there is another man desperately in love with Tracy. He is Macaulay or Mike Connor (Matthew Jeans) a journalist. Mike and his photographer Liz Imbrie (Laura Tyrer) have obtained wedding invitations after the newspaper owner blackmailed the Lord family by threatening to expose Tracy’s father Seth Lord (Russell Wilcox)’s extensive womanising. Liz and Mike have been sent by their dastardly newspaper proprietor but they will be introduced to Uncle Willie (Kurt Kansley) and assume that he is Seth Lord.
Jason Denvir’s beautiful set has flexible pieces of furniture blending in with the floor and magnificent arched windows overlooking the water where True Love is moored. There is fun party-going with most of the actor musicians in the orchestra joining in with the revelry and drinking gin with bitters or champagne. It is 1928 and there is every reason to party. Some of Cole Porter’s famous songs are in this musical, a highlight of the first act being “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” which is brilliantly choreographed and danced, dance by Jaye Elster.
“I Worship You” is played as ironic and silly with four men which include George singing and balancing at a 45 degree angle to the floor. The first act ends on the love song “True Love” as Dexter sings to Tracy, who joins in for the last verse. Matt Blaker playing Dexter looks not unlike Tom Cruise only better looking and taller, and he can sing!
In Act Two, the party gets going and one of my favourite songs is sung by Dexter and Mike, “Well, did you evah! What a swell party this is!” with the sensational lyrics conveying all that affluence and French champagne, “What frills, what frocks /What broads /What furs, what rocks”. Tracy’s answer to her predicament is to get sloshed and “Let’s Misbehave” is her song summing it all up. Dexter responds with the classic song, “Just One of Those Things”.
The Mill at Sonning’s production of Gypsy won a national award in 2023 and High Society is their charming Christmas musical in this unique dining theatre on the banks of the Thames.
High Society/Ridin’ High
Throwing a Ball Tonight
Who Wants To Be a
I Love Paris
She’s Got That Thing
Once Upon a Time
I Worship You
Once Upon a Time
Say It With Gin
Well did You Evah?
Just One of Those Things
It’s Alright With Me
He’s a Right Guy
Let’s Do It
True Love (reprise)
Book by Arthur Kopek
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Based on The Philadelphia Story
Directed by Joe Pitcher
Bethany Rose Lythgoe
Director: Joe Pitcher
Choreographer: Jaye Elster
Set Designer: Jason Denvir
Costume Designer: Natalie Titchener
Musical Supervisor and Arranger: Jerome van der Berge
Lighting Designer:Nic Farman and Hector Murray
Sound Designer: Chris Whybrow
Musical Director: Tom Noyes
Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval
Booking until 20th January 2024
The Mill at Sonning Theatre
Box Office: (0118) 969 8000
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge
at the Mill at Sonning
on 8th December 2023