Top Hat Marlow Theatre Canterbury

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

TOP HAT - Marlow Theatre, Canterbury

Date: 17th November 2011

The Marlow Theatre has recently re-opened after a 2 year and ‘heaven knows how many millions’ refit.

In the past I’ve been unimpressed by the programme and hadn’t been there since seeing my erstwhile neighbour (Bucks) Rula Lenska in ‘84 Charing Cross Road’. Also I don’t like going to the theatre on my own and certainly wouldn’t travel up to London by myself to see a show. So, having joined as a friend of the Marlow, I took a brave pill and booked a seat for the show ‘Top Hat’ based on the very old film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

How glad I am that I went. The show was magical – Great sets, great music, fabulous costumes and a superb cast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original film so was unaware of the comedy element in the show. Can’t think of a moment when the interest palled. With so many productions these days ‘you come out humming the scenery’- in Top Hat you come out singing the songs.  Can't comment on the cast because for once I didn't buy a programme - to be honest I didn't actually see anyone readily available who was selling them - but the Cast were fab - especially the two guys playing the Comedy Cameos.

The evening commenced badly. Friends were invited to meet the cast before the show at 6.00 pm. The letter of invitation turned out to be rather ambiguous. From my days in theatre, meeting the cast meant that we joined members of the audience and mixed and mingled for an hour and then got backstage for the half (before curtain up) Heavy traffic and difficulty in parking meant I arrived at 6.20 only to be told that the event was just about over. It had consisted of two actors sitting on chairs and an audience on raked seating asking them questions – not my idea of meeting the cast. Anyway this meant that I had an hour to kill and nothing to do but so did two other very nice women – so we repaired to the pub across the road and partook of a glass of vino.

Why did we go to a pub and not remain in the brand spanking new Foyer – I’ll tell you why – the Foyer has as much atmosphere and welcome as a Wet, Windy, Winter’s day on Walmer Station. I don’t know whether they ran out of money but the entrance is soulless – and the bar and café look like something you’d find on the motorway. The signage is appalling and the some of the staff didn’t seem to know what they were doing. However the Auditorium is superb – very good acoustics, very good sight lines because the seating is staggered so that you look between heads and not at the back of the one in front. (And, in the past, why did I always sit behind the person with the longest back in the world so that I had to duck and dive from one side to the other to see a show?) My only criticism of the Auditorium is that in the Stalls there is no centre gap so you have rows of roughly 30 seats – it takes a long time to get out of the row if you are in the middle and you disturb an awful lot of people if you aren’t first into the middle.

I’ve also booked up for a performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto played by Julian Lloyd Webber (whom I interviewed with his brother in the 70’s when they brought out a fascinating and unusual LP (that dates me) called Variations.)

Until next time – au revoir. Jan

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