Puttin' on the Ritz

David King (Producer)
Spirit Productions
Liverpool Empire

Puttin’ on the Ritz is the type of show that does exactly what is says on the tin, which is simply whisk away its audience on a journey of pure nostalgia. Billing itself as a song and dance extravaganza, it’s a feel-good show. Nothing more, nothing less.

Set to the wonderful music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, Puttin’ on the Ritz is a show that simply can’t be faulted musically. It’s no exaggeration to say this show contains some of the greatest songs ever written.

The ensemble cast of vocalists lead by Ricky Rojas, Hannah Grover and Lucy Van Gasse deliver polished performances one and all, a highlight being a moving rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow". Ray Quinn’s version of "Mr Bojangles" is arguably his best moment of the evening. The boy can certainly whistle.

To have actually seen the musicians—suited and booted—would have added even more glamour to the occasion, but alas this was not to be. Somehow, invisible musicians just don’t yield quite the same impact.

An equally strong cast of ensemble dancers work their socks off all night. There’s a wide range of styles here from ballroom to salsa and even some suspiciously modern routines thrown in for good measure. Energy levels are high and enthusiasm levels even higher.

Augmenting the dancing styles are Strictly Come Dancing stars Robin Windsor and Anya Garnis as well as Trent Whiddon and Gordana Grandosek. Both couples perform some very stylish routines. Though seeing such high-profile dancers outside their comfort zones would have undoubtedly been interesting, there’s more than enough here for loyal fans to enjoy.

The television stars raise the stakes the moment they glide onto stage. Fast and furious is the word for Windsor who corkscrews his way around the stage raising eyebrows, heartbeats and a few titters too. Meanwhile Trent’s smile is infectious.

Indeed, a little more personality would help this show to soar into new heights. A few ‘off-script’ moments would almost certainly surprise and delight. As it stands, Puttin’ on the Ritz is a show that knows its strengths and rightly plays to them. It’s a safe night, but no less pleasant for that.

Overall, Puttin’ on the Ritz is a night of escapism. Those looking for something a little more edgy might well be advised to look elsewhere. This is dreamy almost innocent show and one which is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of the audience.

Reviewer: David Sedgwick

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