Review: High Society


There is something a little bit brilliant in the casting of Kate Fleetwood in the role of heiress Tracy Lord. Fleetwood was a terrifying Lady Macbeth opposite Patrick Stewart and now here she is on the role most people associate with the gilded Grace Kelly. But when you think that High Society was based on The Philadelphia Story starring Katharine Hepburn, the casting makes total sense.In Maria Friedman's production Fleetwood affects that slightly bored, upper-class drawl of Hepburn's.

She can sing, too. There are notes in Cole Porter's gorgeous score that sound almost Streisandesque, though she hits her stride as champagne-saturated bride rather than as the icy bride-to-be.However, it is not until the second half of the show, during which the party for the ill-fated wedding gets into full swing, that Friedman's production catches fire. It features a piano duel between crooner Joe Stilgoe and band leader Theo Jamieson that, for those who like their Jazz, must be the keyboard equivalent of that great drum battle between Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.

Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra remain on their pedestal but, as the reluctant society hack Mike Conner (the Sinatra character) Jamie Parker has the rough-diamond charisma to upstage even Fleetwood's Tracy.

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