High Society is the latest musical to hit the road from the relatively new stable of producers Music & Lyrics, a nationwide consortium of various regional theatres (in association with Venue Cymru). This new production company aims to tour the best of regional theatre, and High Society follows a successful tour of Leicester Curve’s production of The King and I. Based on the play The Philadelphia Story, and on the 1956 musical film, High Society sadly fails to transfer well onto the musical stage and comes across as rather dull and pointless at times – it hasn’t dated that well either.

This is not entirely the fault of this particular production, directed by Anna Linstrum. Admitedly, a previous production of High Society which I saw on tour in 2005 had a little bit more flow and energy, particularly amongst the ensemble of waitors and maids. However, one problem here is that the actual plot isn’t that interesting. Long Island socialite Tracy Lord (Sophie Bould) is planning a wedding to an executive, when ex-hubby Dexter Haven (Michael Praed) turns up to disrupt proceedings, trying to win her back. Mike Connor (Daniel Boys), a charming reporter, arrives to try to get a story on the family, and also falls for Ms Lord. But do we actually care who she’ll choose on the wedding day? Structurally, High Society has whole sections of unmusicalised dialogue (with an uninteresting though occasionally witty script), and Cole Porter’s numbers don’t grow out of the dialogue at all or move the story along. Not all of them are well sung here either, with Michael Praed producing a rather tuneless version of ‘What Is This Thing Called Love?’. However, Daniel Boys has much more vocal richness in his one solo number ‘You’re Sensational’ and Marilyn Cutts (as Tracy’s mother) has considerable presence and sense of character. Leading lady Sophie Bould as Tracy does what she can with an unsympathetic part – it’s just hard to care about her plight.

The second half gets better – for moments at least – with more interesting chorus work, Ashley Knight and Matt Corner being two standouts as a waiter and butler. There’s a great routine with the whole company in Uncle Willie’s kitchen – the opening routine at the start of the show for the title number was wittily choreographed too (Andrew Wright). Frances O’Connor’s revolving set gives a sense of time and place, with its tall French windows and Long Island backdrop. Teddy Kempner does what he can as the aformentioned Uncle Willie, chasing young photographer Liz (Alex Young), and does an amusing gin-soaked number, but the comedy of the situation doesn’t really work as his character isn’t eccentric enough. The thrust of the story is lost all too quickly again, and one is left to just admire numbers such as ‘It’s Alright With Me’ and ‘Just One of Those Things’. The projection of the show’s logo onto the curtain during the interval and at the end of the show was a bit wobbly – as was the show itself – and one can but hope for more interesting fare from Music & Lyrics next time around.