Musical review: High Society - Festival Theatre

Michael Praed as Dexter Haven

Michael Praed as Dexter Haven

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THE art of food reviewing is held in such high esteem in America that no less than three trips must be made to a restaurant by the reviewer before a pronouncement on its quality is made.

High Society

Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street

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In the general course of theatre reviewing, a reviewer in the UK might have the chance to see the show a couple of times, perhaps more if they really want to get under the skin of the production, but a pronouncement is usually published based on just one night, particularly in regional papers.

This is something that can often do a show a disservice, as there are many variables at play in a touring ensemble, especially a musical like High Society.

Taking Wednesday night’s performance at face value, the peppy production has many engaging virtues - a talented cast, a well-designed, revolving set and a Cole Porter score, yet something was off.

It was as if the production’s rhythm and tempo had been tinkered with, which threw off the performers and everything else with it, almost like someone had given the car’s engine a full oil change with a new grade of oil - nothing’s wrong but the handling just feels different.

Meanwhile, Tuesday night’s show, despite a technical hitch, was a far more cohesive and confident affair.

Supporting turns from Teddy Kempner as Uncle Willie, Marilyn Cutts as Margaret Lord and Katie Lee as mischievous teen Dinah Lord brought the audience to their feet.

Michael Praed’s Dexter Haven was charming, refined and well-timed, while meddling reporters Liz, Alex Young and Mike Daniel Boys helped drive the show’s comic momentum.

In Dublin, the same show, with the same cast, had been an absolute triumph.

So what can we deduce? Well, Wednesday night’s audience experienced a company that seem to be ironing out kinks that have developed simply by the virtue of moving a big production to a new city.

Does High Society deserve the benefit of the doubt? Absolutely. Whether Edinburgh theatre goers are willing to give it that chance is another question entirely. If only reviewers had the luxury of giving audiences a fully rounded picture more often.

• Run ends tomorrow.

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