Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Quite a few of the audience at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, it seems, as they sigh ecstatically over the gorgeous Fifties fashions featured in the opening production of this year’s Pitlochry summer season. In what is now a Pitlochry tradition, the season begins with a musical, in this case the Cole Porter-Arthur Kopit classic High Society, immortalised in the 1956 film starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. And with a cast of 17 dancing and singing their hearts out, and Jon Beales commanding an excellent onstage band, it’s hard to fault the sheer ambition and energy of the show, as it leads us through the famous Philadephia story of American princess Tracy Lord, who, on the eve of her second marriage, finds herself tempted both by gifted gossip journalist Mike Connor, and by the undimmed charm of her first husband, Dexter.
High Society ***
Pitlochry Festival Theatre
In detail, the show sometimes lacks finesse. Helen Mallon makes what she can of the role of Tracy, despite the baffling hindrance of a ridiculous Mae West wig; and the inclusion in the 1998 stage score of some Cole Porter classics not designed for this story sometimes makes for a bumpy musical ride.
Yet there’s plenty of talent on view, too, notably from Cameron Johnson as Connor, and a fabulously Fifties-looking Rebecca Elise as fellow-journalist Liz Imbrie.
And if this High Society never quite hits the heights, it certainly features some fine choreography by Chris Stuart-Wilson; and plenty of eloquent singing of beautiful, familiar tunes, including Tracy and Dexter’s great romantic anthem True Love, which brings the show to a joyful conclusion.
*In repertoire at Pitlochry until 14 October