Who wants to be a millionaire? The lush set, looking like a conservatory of a very big waterfront estate in Oyster Bay, the stunning outfits, the bevy of very smart efficient staff, the yacht parked at the bottom of the garden and the oh so idle life certainly make it look an interesting proposition. However, it’s obviously not all plain sailing in High Society.
There’s trouble already brewing. Tracy Lord (Tegan Gully) is an attractive divorcee about to be married the next day to a singularly dull, safe but stuffy rich industrialist, George Kittredge, sniffily played by Graham Loveday. Maybe life with her previous husband, cool, good looking Dexter (Andrew Crispe) was rather too exciting – she says that George is a safe haven after Dexter – but you can’t keep a good man down and he pops in to tell her that two reporters, Mike (Chris Eaton) and Liz (Jenny Scarce) from a magazine which pursues celebrities and then proceeds to make or mar them, have arrived. Since the wedding plans exclude the Press completely, these two are offering Tracy a deal she can’t refuse. If they can’t take photos, they’ll publish an exposé of her estranged father, Seth (Lance Jones), who is having an affair with an exotic dancer. Oops! High society doesn’t approve of that sort of thing and it would go hard on her mother, Margaret (Shelley Hampton) so Tracy reluctantly acquiesces. Tracy’s sister Dinah (Georgie Cosercas) is a perky, smart aleck teenager and when permanently drunk and incorrigible womaniser Uncle Willie (Andrew Crayford) enters, well, you have the picture. You have the picture, the cast to bring it all together and the orchestra, under its Musical Director, Ben Saunders, to play the lovely music and lyrics of Cole Porter.
This play is based on the play “Philadelphia” and the film “High Society”, both very successful in their day and is directed for the Metropolitan Musical Theatre Co. by Barry Hill who keeps it moving at a slick pace with panache. Tracy is Riding High, she sings, and why shouldn’t she? Tegan Gully has a good voice, good looks, a bubbly personality and what it takes to play this role. She’s getting married in the morning, having a sumptious wedding and Uncle Willy is paying for it. She has 7 women to help her change from her riding habit when she comes in and Uncle Willie to chat to as he weaves about the stage. Not unreasonably he asks how many are coming to the wedding and he’s told there will be 700. “And I bet they all expect food” he grumbles good-naturedly. He’s fond of his niece and admires her greatly. “If Helen’s face could launch a thousand ships, hers could launch a navy!”
That evening there will be a pre-wedding ball. Tracy’s ex-husband, Dexter, turns up to give her a wedding present, a model of the yacht they shared when they were married – True Love. Andrew Crispe is an experienced actor with many credits to his name ’s but this is his debut performance with the Met. Whew! how lucky are they that he dropped by! This is a handsome man with excellent acting ability and a truly delightful voice. When he sings “What is this thing called love?”, “Just one of those things” and “I love you Samantha”, it feels extra good to be in the theatre. Uncle Willie is a wealthy alcoholic and a womaniser extraordinaire – and he can sing too. Once he sets his bloodshot eyes on Liz, the journalist, she is doomed to spend the rest of the play running. This likeable old roué is a hot favourite with the audience. On the rare occasions when she can avoid his grasping hands, we learn that Liz (who sings very well) is in love with Mike, her co-journalist, but he seems indifferent to her.
There is much humour in this play from everyone on stage, including the hard working servants. Mike, being served, and unused to service like this, says, “Thank you – Jeeves”. Smooth as butter and without a moment’s hesitation, the butler answers, “Jeeves is no longer with us, sir.” Mike had a little trouble with “You’re sensational” but he has a pleasant voice. The great songs keep coming and “Well, did you evah?” sung by the staff, Tracy, Willie and Liz and “Who wants to be a millionaire” by Liz and Mike are good examples.Suffice it to say that, having said she no longer drinks champagne because it sends her wild, skinny dipping in the swimming pool with Mike after Tracy indulges, is just part of the fun.
Yes, it’s a good romp with lots of laughs, lovely music well sung and very good performances by all. They are supported by a fine production team who really know their stuff. Congratulations to them all.
The Metropolitcan Musical Theatre Co. of S.A. presents
by Arthur Kopit
Director Barry Hill
Venue: Arts Theatre | 53 Angas Street, Adelaide SA
Dates: 10 – 19 May 2018
Tickets: $24.50 – $34