Top Hat is a funny, frothy fizz of a show with some cracking numbers by American tunesmith Irving Berlin. Set in 1935, and based on the film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the stage version (directed by Matthew White) stars Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen who quickly claim the roles for themselves. I caught the show at Bristol Hippodrome in the final week of a pre West End tour. The plot – for what there is of a plot – is a nonsensical foray of mistaken identity, impersonation, wit and dance. Broadway star Jerry Travers (Chambers) is brought to London by producer Horace Hardwick (Martin Ball) where he meets and falls in love with Dale Tremont (Summer Strallen). Initially, Tremont is reluctant at a potential union, remarking ‘Is there no beginning to your talents?’, but Travers wins her over during a storm in the number Isn’t this a  lovely day. Tremont is a fashion model for wacky Italian designer Alberto Beddini (a hilarious Ricardo Alfonso) and mistakes Travers for Hardwick, who has just married her favourite relative Madge (Vivien Parry). Mayhem ensues.

The ‘story’ is just an excuse for an intoxicating cacophony of song and dance. The show opens with Puttin on the Ritz with Chambers and company tapping their hearts out, and Act 1 closes with an exciting, almost filmic, sequence with Chambers leading in Putting on a Top Hat. ‘As good as anything I’ve seen on screen’, the man behind me – a bit of a know-it-all on dance – remarked. Chambers has made a remarkable transition from Holby City, via Strictly Come Dancing, to the musical stage and is clearly at home in the world of dance. He is gradually turning into a good leading man too, although he has a slight harshness of tone in his American accent at times that, if softened, could put him on the way to becoming the next Tim Flavin in the song-and-dance man stakes. Summer Strallen – a wonderful Meg in the original London cast of Love Never Dies – is a leading lady of style and panache, especially in the solo number Wild About You, a mock seduction of Travers. Strallen has real poise and stage presence, along with dance lines to die for, avoiding the oft maligned musical theatre curse of over projecting in her vocals. In a blonde wig, she looks much like her sister Scarlett – currently starring at the Palace Theatre in Singin in the Rain – just down the road from the Aldwych Theatre where Top Hat will make its West End home.

There’s something fun about watching a company sing and dance their way through a series of frothy numbers – Cheek to Cheek is breathtakingly sung through dance and is particularly well presented. As well as the big set numbers, Bill Deamer has choreographed the on-stage entrances of many of the supporting characters which bring a delightful cohesion to the whole, giving detail and attention to otherwise minor characters. Director Matthew White also ensures that the supporting characters have their moment – Vivien Parry’s Madge Hardwick, who enters the action at the beginning of Act 2 when everyone ends up in Venice, does a good line in put-downs, mostly at the expense of her producer husband. And Stephen Boswell’s Bates – valet to Horace Hardwick – pops up in a variety of bizarre disguises, adding much hilarity to the plot, and even playing a part in the inevitably happy finale.

The 30 strong company and 14 piece band (under the musical direction of Dan Jackson, who also dons a top hat at the end of the show) do an impressive amount of fast tap dance and romantic ballroom. The show scores visually too, with over 200 colourful costumes (Jon Morrell) and a quick-changing sumptuous set (Hildegard Bechtler) featuring hotel rooms and lobby, the Broadway stage, a London library and Venice. After a particularly exhilarating dance number, Strallen’s Tremont turns to Chambers’ Travers and says ‘I just did everything you did but backwards and in heels!’ and a final daffy plot line brings the two together for Let’s Face the Music and Dance. This show will surely do just that in the West End for some time where it will bring froth and fizz to the Aldwych Theatre. Just don’t wear a top hat.