Review: Puttin’ On The Ritz

Putin' on the Ritz. Picture: contributed
Putin' on the Ritz. Picture: contributed
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CONSIDERING virtually everybody in town was somewhere else awaiting the results of the referendum, it came as no real surprise to discover a largely empty Playhouse last night.

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For the few hardy souls that did show up to this tribute to the golden era of Hollywood, however, they did at least – if you’ll pardon the pun – make a song and dance about it.

Focusing on the songs of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and the dances of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it’s a shame the production values didn’t match the quality of the performers. A rickety staircase, drapes coated in glorified fairy-lights, and visible gaffa tape might replicate what it looks like behind the scenes of a movie studio set – but Tinseltown glamour this was not.

That said, the glitzy costumes and equally bedazzling footwork would suggest the budget has been invested (rightly some might say) in the performers instead. When a technical issue caused a temporary delay, at least one audience member had the good humour to suggest popping a 
shilling in the meter. So what did guest-star Lorna Luft (singing daughter of Hollywood legend, Judy Garland) make of it all, one wonders? A true pro, she treated the small crowd as though she was performing inside Madison Square Garden. Always smiling, always trying to engage with the audience, she gave some insightful snippets into her mother’s musical life whilst delivering knock-out versions of Fred Fisher’s Chicago and Hugh Martin/ Ralph Biane’s The Trolley Song, too. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see and hear more from her.

The (six) main singers, meanwhile, were consistent throughout, doing all the classics a justice. The dancing ensemble’s rendition of the Charleston would make anything Miley Ray Cirus does onstage seem prudent by comparison. And their perfectly in-sync, sit-down-clapping routine was a rare treat. Production values aside, the show deserves an audience. In fact, it’s worth going to see for Lorna Luft alone.

• Run ends Saturday.