The touring production of Irving Berlin’s Top Hat is a real song and dance spectacular from start to finish – pure good old-fashioned entertainment. Based on the famous motion picture, the plot centres around a famous American tap dancer, Jerry Travers, who arrives in London to make his West End debut. Here he meets the girl of his dreams, Dale Tremont, and the evening follows the many twists and turns that the couple’s romance takes, thanks in no small part to a mistaken identity joke that gets funnier and funnier as the show goes on. Top Hat begins with the ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ tap dance sequence – the show opens on a high energy number and doesn’t let up for the next two hours. Irving Berlin’s delightful numbers are a real strength of the show, from ‘Isn’t This A Lovely Day’ as Jerry and Dale fall in love on a bench in the rain, to the great company dance number ‘Cheek to Cheek’ and the enchanting ‘Let’s Face The Music And Dance’. Opulent set designs take us from New York to London and on to Venice in the second half, while also paring the extravagance down to intimate settings when required, and the lavish costumes reflect the latest period designs of that time.

Top Hat is blessed with some quirky supporting characters who enhance the basic love-story plot and provide more depth and further comedy to the Jerry-Dale saga. John Conroy is a hit as the droll butler Bates, who dons a series of disguises throughout the evening (including one as an elderly duchess!), as he pursues his master, Clive Hayward’s Horace Hardwick, the producer who brings Jerry over to London in the first place. Hardwick’s long-suffering wife Madge is overseas for the opening night of Jerry’s show, but is featured in the second half as Jerry pursues Dale to Venice. Rebecca Thornhill does a wry and glorious turn as the lovelorn Madge, and is in fine voice for the 11 o’clock number ‘Outside of That, I Love You’. And Sebastien Torkia plays an eccentric Italian dress designer, high-charged in every way.

But the stars of the show are really Alan Burkitt as Jerry and Charlotte Gooch as Dale. Having initially understudied Jerry in London, Burkitt steps into the leading man’s shoes and is a natural in the role. Tall, with a genuine personable air, Burkitt glides and taps across the floor effortlessly with the ease of an Astaire. He sings well in that refined style of the era too. Charlotte Gooch is a good match as his sassy love interest Dale Tremont, who believes she is being pursued by her friend Madge’s husband. Gooch makes a good fist of the feistiness and is a good match physically for Burkitt too, and also dances like a dream.

A strong and hard-working company of talented dancers sell the show from start to finish, playing an endless succession of bell boys, maids, florists and hotel guests – also featuring front of stage in many of the shorter scene changes which choreographer Bill Deamer makes a great feature of. Jae Alexander is clearly in his enthusiastic element as Musical Director on this show, and the 11 piece band provide clear and beautiful accompaniment to the story throughout. This touring production of Top Hat, directed by Matthew White, is no pale imitation of the West End show, and the energy of the song and dance routines and lavish set pieces never flags. Top Hat is pure escapism as the audience are transported into the glitz and glamour of another world – what better show to tap away the winter blues?