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Review: Top Hat (The Mill At Sonning)

There's been a real appetite for reviving classic musicals this year with shows like Anything Goes at the Barbican proving there is a huge demand to revisit musicals we all grew up with. They don't come much more iconic than Top Hat. First seen in 1935 as a movie starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it took another 75 years for it to be seen on the stage. Since 2011, the show has toured the UK and enjoyed a West End run. Now it is at the stunning Mill at Sonning for a limited season.

With this production of Top Hat, you are paying for an experience. The ticket comes with a stunning two course meal and the venue itself is exquisite - a grade II listed building with a riverside view, it is truly a beautiful place to visit. Before the show had even started, I was already enjoying one of the best nights I'd had this year. However, that does set a high standard for the show to ensure the audience kept the five star atmosphere throughout the next 2 hours and 45 minutes (and if you're venturing from London, stop yourself worrying about catching your train back). Thankfully, this show had nothing to worry about.

A testament to what can be achieved in a relatively small space, the 14 stong cast strut their way down the aisles in the audience, sometimes striking up a conversation with one of them, in what felt like a truly immersive experience. With expert direction from Jonathan O'Boyle and flawless choreography from Ashley Nottingham, this show achieves West End standard in a non West End venue.

The cast is led by Jack Butterworth, fresh from the original West End cast of Hamilton, as Jerry Travers. Stepping in to a role made famous by Fred Astaire may seem like impossible shoes to fill but Jack taps in those shoes like the best of them, delivering an incredible performance. Showing off a voice like butter, an incredible sense of movement and bursting with charisma, Jack is a wonderful leading man and one you can't take your eyes off of.

Jerry's love interest Dale Tremont is played by Billie-Kay - a phenomenal talent, she keeps the audience (and Jerry) in the palm of her hand with sass and style throughout the show. She also delivers the vocal performance of the evening with a sensational rendition of 'Better Luck Next Time' proving what an immeasurable talent she really is.

Tiffany Graves is utterly scene-stealing as Madge Hardwick, while Paul Kemble plays her long-suffering husband Horace Hardwick. Together they perform a showstopping duet of 'Outside of That, I Love You'. The rest of the cast are of a consistently high standard with not a weak link among them. Seasoned performers are joined by 2020 graduates Charlie Booker and Meg Power making their professional debuts.

Some incredible sequences are featured throughout the show with a visual feast in some tap dancing numbers including the iconic opening 'Puttin' On The Ritz'. That's not the only well-loved song featured in this production with 'Cheek To Cheek' and 'Let's Face The Music and Dance' proving they can stand the test of time, putting a smile on the faces of the audience of all ages. Outside of the numbers are a constant stream of witty dialogue and brilliant one-liners as Butterworth's Jerry delivers them with a knowing grin.

There really is nothing I can fault with this production. Incredible performances delivered by a truly world-class cast in an absolutely beautiful setting. This has to be one of the most special shows I have seen since theatres re-opened 5 months ago. While this would be quite at home on a West End stage and deserves more life once this run ends, get yourself to The Mill at Sonning and be one of the first to witness this absolute marvel of a production.


Top Hat plays at the Mill at Sonning until January 8th 2022. Tickets from

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