I have always loved the glitz and glamour of the 1920’s, the cheeky flapper girls and dapper men made this exciting era not easy to forget. It was a flamboyant and exhilarating time which fed into the society, music and art of the period. ‘Putting on the Ritz’ at the Edinburgh Playhouse was a wonderful step back in time, featuring classic songs by the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. The show was a collection of dances and vocal performances all showing the elegance and charm of the ‘20s.
The whole performance was very pleasing visually. The set behind was simple: a pair of stairs curving up to each other framed by ‘starlit’ drapes. On one hand perhaps more could have been done to make the backdrop more authentic to the music halls of the time but on the other, when the starlight’s changed colour and the spotlights caught the glittering stairs a shimmering stage appeared. This created an effective back drop for the dancers and singers and rather than distracting the audience from them, completed and enhanced the scenes.
The dance routines were extremely clever and witty in demonstrating the moves of the time. Seven couples Waltzed, Quick-stepped, Fox-trotted and Charlestoned over the stage, all the while pulling over- exaggerated facial expressions. It was hard not smile when watching such talented performers.
The costumes varied for the performers ranging from shimmering floor length gowns to hot pants and shirts. The men modelled smart suits, bowler hats and the shiniest shoes I have ever seen! The costumes were vital in setting the scene and atmosphere to each song, enhancing the movement and shapes the dancers were making.
The singers sang the classics in the authentic, muffled voice of the time and limited themselves to swaying and clicking. The three female singers had a muse- like presence to them; floating on and off the stage, always appearing as a three: a blonde, a brunette and a redhead. Unfortunately there was not a live band. I felt this was a shame, especially as the style of music really lends itself to a live orchestra.
Although it was not a full house the audience were really engaged and entertained. The best part of the show had to be when the dancers sat on the edge of the stage and performed a perfectly synchronised and very complex hand jive. My sister and I tried to join in, but as the pace quicken we were left far behind!
‘Putting on the Ritz’ was a really entertaining and vivacious performance that captured the roaring twenties and transported the audience back to the Golden Age of Hollywood.