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Parwich & Beyond

Tom Chambers and Top Hat

- Cultural Extravaganza Part 2 -

We were very excited about seeing `Top Hat’, for all sorts of reasons. It is always such a treat going to the theatre anyway; we both love musicals and we are both great longterm fans of Tom Chambers whose plays we watched (and hockey matches) throughout his time at school and the former ever since. We know that Tom has always admired Fred Astaire and and that he just loves loves - and is very good at - tap dancing.

Negotiating the rugby league crowds and heavy rain along a busy route unknown to us had its stressful moments but we got to the Lowry in one piece, and managed eventually to park, way up above the crowds on the 6th floor… Apart from the journey from our delighteful B&B in Wilsmlow it was indulgence through and through, this trip! Having made our way down from the 6th floor clouds of the car park we had time for a quick chat with Tom at the stage door at the end of the matinee, a quick look at the current TS Lowry exhibition (what a talented but sad and solitary man) and then sat back to enjoy in a leisurely fashion our pre-booked pre theatre dinner at the Terrace Restaurant. All the food – although delicious – came shaped in little rounds which seems to be a current fashion and a not very subtle form of portion control (although i must admit we had more than enough).

Well dined we made our way to our very comfortable seats in row G – beautifully close to the action. Don’t you love that moment before the curtain opens, and when the orchestra begins… and so lively was the music that the conductor was almost tap dancing himself.

And at last it started. We loved the show. The storyline is thin, with the age-old theme of mistaken identities/dreadful misunderstandings but this hardly matters. The actors were good, the dancing magnificent and the familiar tunes so well-loved. I must admit there was a spell towards the end of the first act when John and I both found the show had begun to flag slightly; fortunately it regained its magic throughout the second half half and how disappointing it always is when a show really does come to an end with no more chances of an encore.

Marvelling how Tom, Summer Strallen and all the actors can do two shows in one day and still dance with such vigour and apparent enthusiasm we rose from our seats and virtually tap-danced our way back to the car park, passing all the rugby league singers whose endlessly repeated dirge-like refrains failed to drown the lively 1930s numbers echoing in our own heads. And now we are hoping to see the show again when it comes to Leeds (via Plymouth, Norwich, Canterbury and Edinburgh). Will it come to London?

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