Prior's Field September 2018

Sophisticated �High Society� Performance at St Benedict�s

Published Tuesday 10th of February 2015 09:19:33 AM

The Drama department at St Benedict�s School presented Cole Porter�s �High Society� with four performances on 4th � 7th of February. Mr Richard Gee reviewed the musical:

Cole Porter�s �High Society� is not your typical school musical. There are no street urchins or pick-pockets, no leather jackets or grease-lightning hair and certainly no stray dogs trying to find their orphaned owner. Instead, there are intricate marriage complications, family rivalry, 1930s American glamour and enough Champagne to drown the actors. The word that comes to mind for this musical is sophistication. And sophisticated it certainly was.
Based on the classic stage play �The Philadelphia Story,� the plot centres around pretentious Oyster Bay socialite, Tracy Samantha Lord, who is planning a June wedding to an equally pretentious executive. Then ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven arrives to disrupt the proceedings. Additional comic complications arise when tabloid reporter Mike Connor, who is there to cover the wedding, also falls for the bride-to-be.

Head of Drama at St Benedict�s, Ms Katie Ravenscroft, directed proceedings with panache and style and transported the audience to a world of Charlestons, jazz and halter-neck dresses. The vast Orchard Hall stage was cleverly utilised, using the forestage for the intimate jazz club and �Spy� magazine office before the curtains revealed a palatial drawing room and terrace complete with four double doors used to comic effect.

The success of this musical lay in the hands of the performers and there was not a weak link in the twenty strong cast. The talent on offer was staggering. Lola Stewart as Tracy Lord was sublime: her poise and flirtatiousness with all three possible suitors was both comic and heartfelt. Sam Lubkowski was a revelation as C.K. Dexter; his swagger and arrogance beautifully contrasted James Porter�s nerdy, na�ve George Kitteridge. Rory Hobson played the third possible suitor, Mike Connor, and captured his awkward vulnerability superbly.
Other notable performances included Assisi Azzopardi as Tracy�s precocious younger sister, Alex Codrington and Louis Clarke as the upper-class, confused parents and Buck Joly de Lotbiniere providing a neat cameo as the bumbling, lascivious Uncle Willie.

Catherine Bench, in her ninth school play of her career, provided the stand-out moment of the evening. As she sang the number �In the Still of the Night� at the start of Act Two, you could have heard a pin drop. Not only is her singing voice beyond her years, but her ability to portray such yearning and emotion, quite extraordinary.

The cast had the added responsibility of singing and dancing many classic Cole Porter numbers: �Who wants to a be a Millionaire?�, �True Love� , �Now you has Jazz� and of course �Well, Did you Evah!� made famous by Sinatra and Nat King Cole. All were note perfect and performed with stylish choreography and gusto.
The band, under the expert direction of Director of Music, Mr Chris Eastwood, would not have sounded out of place in a West End theatre.

Congratulations and thank you to Ms Ravenscroft, Mr Eastwood, the band and cast for providing such an accomplished show. Many audience members left their seats with a smile on their faces, humming the tunes. �High Society� will be a tough act to follow next year; perhaps the street urchins will make an appearance!


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