I was fortunate enough to be present at the opening night of the fantastic, all singing, all dancing extravaganza that is Puttin’ on the Ritz at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool. When we arrived, the foyer was bustling with people, as was the bar. Once seated, I looked around the auditorium and it was pretty packed too. This may have been fuelled by recent trends towards anything nostalgic, or it could just have been because people are aware of the high quality of Spirit Productions’ shows and their excellent director, David King.
As a small child, my parents always watched the Sunday afternoon film on television, this was frequently a musical, so I was introduced to the Golden Era of Hollywood from an early age. I was fascinated by them, I was so young at the time, that I actually wondered why I had never heard people break into song during a conversation. The show, which featured the music of three musical greats, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, most definitely did not disappoint me and, judging from their reaction, the audience.
The curtains opened to reveal a stunningly sparkly set. Silvery staircases with glittery risers dominated the background of the stage, between these a balcony above which hung a screen showing old black and white clips of the original performers of the songs. This added a welcome touch of nostalgia. After a brief introduction, the real fun began with a lively and appropriate rendition of There’s No Business Like Show Business. This was quickly followed by The Magic of Fred Astaire, which featured the well-known I Won’t Dance among others. After several numbers by Irving Berlin and George Gershwin, we were treated to a superb rendition of Summertime. The vocalist had a truly amazing voice, in fact her top note at the end may have shattered a few glasses. This was followed by an appearance from guest dancers Katya Virshilas and Jared Murillo who demonstrated their brilliant dance skills as they danced The Charlston.
In view of the era, I was slightly disappointed that the first half of the show featured hardly any tap dancing, however, much to my delight, this was rectified during the second half with several lively dance numbers. On a quieter note, Becky O’Brien gave another performance during which she sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow. This was extremely emotional and oh what a voice! The final segment of this wonderful evening was set in the famous Cotton Club and featured many popular songs from the era including my favourite I Got Rhythm.
Sadly, space does not permit me to list all of the songs, there were over fifty of them throughout the show. Vocals and dancing were spot on, costumes out of this world. This really was a feast of the music and dance from the Golden Era of Hollywood.
The show runs from Monday 27 July to Saturday 29 August. For further information or to book please call the Box Office on 01253 743339 or visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk
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