High Society

“A sparkling Christmas hit!”

The magical Mill at Sonning experience includes a pre-show meal in the atmospheric Grade II listed mill, complete with working waterwheel.  Look out for the low ceilings, uneven floors and a multitude of fairy lights.  The food is hearty and plentiful and currently includes a delicious traditional Christmas menu.  With full bellies you enter the intimate auditorium and prepare to be dazzled.

High Society is one of the classic musicals from the iconic silver screen era, packed with a sublime collection of Cole Porter songs.  

The story is set in the glamorous opulence of the Lord family water-front estate in Oyster Bay, Long Island, in the balmy summer of 1958.  Preparations are afoot for the impending nuptials of Tracey Lord, however, a surprise visitor and the unplanned arrival of news reporters leads to confusion as plans are thrown into disarray.  All the while the champagne keeps flowing and the big hit jazz numbers are non-stop.

Set amongst the idle rich, the narrative of the show is built upon a sense of class snobbery.  Most of the characters are wearing a metaphorical mask to conceal their authentic reality and they all spend much of the story trying to maintain the facade.  However, the social commentary and the flimsy, often convoluted, storyline are totally outshone by the fabulous score and the exquisite song and dance numbers which take centre stage.

The set design by Jason Denvir, is simple but stylish, cleverly evocative of the era.  Joe Pitcher's slick stage direction and the intricate use of lighting make full use of the stage and auditorium, truly immersing the audience into the action.  It feels like we all have a personal invitation to the party.

The entire cast work wonderfully together and the ensemble numbers are beautifully choreographed by Jaye Elster.  The lead actors all deliver commanding  performances, with fantastic vocal ability and impeccable comic timing.  Victoria Serra as Tracy Lord and Matt Blaker as Dexter Haven make a believable couple of ex's failing to deny their simmering chemistry.  Matthew Jeans as Mike Connor, channels a charismatic "Sinatra-esqe" nonchalance into his role.  He brings to the stage the triple threat of an exquisite vocal, fluid dancing and heartfelt characterisation.   With fabulous style and energy the cast keep delivering the non-stop toe-tapping big hits including  "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", "What a Swell Party This Is" and the gorgeous classic "True Love".

This production of High Society is a slick, nostalgic trip into the golden era of classic Jazz standards and Cole Port showstoppers.  A sparkling Christmas hit!

This show was reviewed on the 8th December 2023.  High Society runs at The Mill at Sonning until the 20th January 2024.  Tickets available here: Mill at Sonning
 

Review written by Joanne Griffiths

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Photo credit: Andreas Lambis

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