TO BE A MILLIONAIRE
Arts Club's High Society provides window to the wealthy life
As I sat down in the ever-elegant Stanley Theatre, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would this portrayal of the classic musical cause me to bob my head along in time with the music? Or would it fall short, instead leaving me to flip through the program to find out when the intermission was? As the curtains slid back, revealing an illustrious stage, I had high hopes for this production. The first act opened with the elegant Lord mansion, illustrating the house help cheerfully introducing what exactly it means to be in a “high society”. The mansion and its gardens all encourage a theme of soft ivories and greens, with tasteful flowers and furniture pulling in each set to create an eye-pleasing scene. The Arts Club had really done it again in terms of visual production, leaving no cost spared in creating a true stage delight.
It isn’t long before the audience was introduced to Dexter (played by Todd Talbot) who promptly stole the show, and the audience's collective heart. You will no doubt find yourself hoping he and Tracy find romantic happiness, from the moment he invites himself to tea right up until the energetic finale. Talbot fills the stage with charm, and maintains strong chemistry with each of the actors in every scene. You can't help but cheer for him and everything he does, even though he does serve as a sort of antagonist for the plot.
The portrayal of each of the characters provided depth, so that it was as though you knew each one intimately, beyond what the script had given you. All of the actors were clearly passionate about their roles, which is what provided a certain level of realism to the story. Even though most of us are unable to partake in the life of a high society on a regular basis, this production provides a quirky and comedic window into that different, debonair way of living.
Fast-moving with a satisfactory combination of singing and dialogue - this is a musical, after all - this production of High Society will keep you engaged from beginning to end. Every song was convincingly sung with the perfect emotion – energy where it was celebration, and sadness when it was about heartbreak. As a result, the performance will have you in both laughter and tears within mere minutes. The Cole Porter standards that got their name in the film musical pack just as much punch with today's live audience. You will reminisce with age-old classics like "True Love" and "You're Sensational!", and tap your foot along with "She's Got That Thing!" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Of course, there's also the hilarious "Say It With Gin" which could easily become your Friday-night theme song. Although it is certainly difficult to live up to the musical talents of Sinatra and Crosby, the cast stood on their own as an excellent musical ensemble. It has shown once again that the Arts Club has a phenomenal skill for producing top-notch musicals.
And as you exit the beautiful Stanley, you will travel home continuously humming the annoyingly catchy "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?", wishing you could return to the addictive world of High Society.
//Samantha Thompson, copy editor