Puttin' on The Ritz

Puttin' on the Ritz is an all-singing, all-dancing tour of the highlights of the 1920s music scene, with occasional forays into the 30s and 40s. The talented ensemble are responsible for most of the numbers, while Strictly Come Dancing stars Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor make some guest appearances.

The strongest aspect of this show is definitely the performances.

The strongest aspect of this show is definitely the performances. The six singers are all very skilled, with a nice range of voices from Hannah Kilminster's husky mezzo to Lucy Van Gasse's beautiful top soprano. Simon Schofield and Rebecca Lisewski also deserve special mention, particularly for the impressive duet they perform while tap dancing. Lots of fun. The dance ensemble, too, give a thoroughly enjoyable performance as they dance their way through a range of different styles.

Rihanoff and Windsor, on the four or so occasions when they appear, are always well worth the wait. They work together with the effortless symbiosis of a longstanding partnership, and give a performance that will be much appreciated by Strictly fans.

The technical aspects of the show let the side down somewhat. The sound quality is unusually poor. The backing tracks (and what a shame there isn't a live band) are rather fuzzy, and even the live vocals suffer. The quality is so poor that if more than two singers sing at once, the sound is abrasive and diction is almost entirely lost. A great shame when a lyrical genius like Cole Porter is on display. The decision for the singers to hold microphones, rather than wear radio mics attached to their heads, is also an interesting one. It really limits the choreography that accompanies their songs, and the microphones themselves look deeply incongruous beside the glamour of the costumes.

Another disappointing aspect of the show is the twenty minutes or so it spends in a mock-up set of The Cotton Club. The Cotton Club has a pretty chequered history. Despite being an important part of the careers of a great many black musicians, it was a 'whites only' establishment. Almost all the entertainers were black, and almost all the clientele were white. Given this history, it is troubling that this production has chosen not to hire any black singers, and instead have its entirely white cast cover the songs. It is also noteworthy that while for the sections of the show on Gershwin, Porter and Berlin, we are shown plenty of photos of the musicians, we are shown no photos of the Cotton Club musicians, just one painting of Louis Armstrong and a couple of outside shots of the venue.

Still, these objections aside, this is a fun show with plenty of glitz and glamour and no shortage of dazzling costume changes to help keep you occupied.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Starring Strictly Come Dancing favourites Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor. Featuring the music of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin.

The most famous songs of the Golden Age of Hollywood are recreated live on stage with our award winning singers and dancers. Special guests are world champion dance professionals Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor from BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, who will wow the audience with their glamorous costumes and ballroom skills.

Puttin On The Ritz takes you on a wonderful musical journey and features music from George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter – including Cheek to Cheek, Alexander’s Rag Time Band, Birth of the Blues, Swanee, Night and Day, I Got Rhythm, Easter Parade and Puttin' On The Ritz.

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