Product placement is elevated to lyric replacement in a case of not who pays the piper but the Piper pays the production in Helen Dallimore’s elegant, swellegant staging of HIGH SOCIETY at the Hayes Theatre.
Piper Heidsieck champagne is the choice of the Lord household and the bottles are not only wrung out but sung about in a show that’s as bubbly as the beverage.
The play, of course, is based on the 1956 movie, HIGH SOCIETY, itself based on a play called The Philadelphia Story, which was a starring vehicle for Katherine Hepburn.
There’s Hepburn channeling in Amy Lehpamer’s exquisite take on Tracy Lord, sophisticated socialite, once married to yachtsman, Dexter Haven, now engaged to stuffed shirt George Kitteridge.
It’s T for timing in a triple threat performance, that incorporates vocal and violin virtuosity.
Bert LaBonte’s boat builder Dexter still harbours deep feelings for his ex and becomes a sly catalyst in scuppering the impending nuptials by providing safe passage of a reporter, Mike, and photographer, Liz, to the wedding.
La Bonte, like Lehpamer, hails from Geelong, where there’s obviously something in the water, their footlighters faring better than their footy team.
Cole Porter’s songs are gorgeously arranged by musical director, Daryl Wallis, bringing fresh energy to such standards as Well, Did Ya Evah?, Who Wants to be A Millionaire and the Academy Award nominated, True Love.
Everyone in this excellent ensemble memorably serves the songs and the farcical antics of the story.
Michelle Barr and Phillip Lowe as the domestics, Mavis and Chester are delightful – forget the staff stealing the silver, these servants come close to stealing the show!
Laurence Coy as Uncle Willy, dips into his inner dipsomania and delivers a delicious comic turn. The lecherous inebriate may be of high society but certainly not high sobriety, a libertine leering and lusting after the luscious Liz.
Liz, pining for her colleague, Mike, to whom she is invisible, in a romantic sense, is majestically played with love lorn resignation tempered by a steely resilience by Virginia Gay.
And Bobby Fox is fantastic as Mike, the inverted snob, who succumbs to the spell cast by Tracy.
Sensational supporting work from Delia Hannah as Mama Lord and Russell Cheek as the repentant philanderer, Jessica Whitfield as Tracy’s precocious teenage sibling Dinah and Scott Irwin as the pre-nup cuckold, George, round out an ensemble whose affection is infectious.
Lauren Peter’s simple set of hinged horseshoe arches is swellegant as is costume designer, Lucetta Stapleton’s wardrobe choices.
The intimacy of the Hayes Theatre is a challenge for sound mixing – the actors miked with a voluminous band – a small imperfection in an otherwise highly entertaining show.
HIGH SOCIETY is playing the Hayes theatre, 18 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point until Saturday 3rd October. Performance times are Mondays at 6.30pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, and Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2pm. Website- http://www.hayestheatre.com.au.