Puttin’ On the Ritz

Puttin' on the Ritz Aust TourOn the back of their successful 2017 Australian tour, the Company of Puttin’ On the Ritz have returned, drawing a full house at the Frankston Arts Centre on Saturday 8 June – that extra shows were needed to meet demand.

Harking back to the glory days of Hollywood and promising “an all-singing, all-dancing celebration of some of the most iconic music of all time” – Puttin’ On the Ritz features a sixteen strong cast (six singers and ten dancers), most with West End credits.

For two hours the audience were treated to a calvacade of classic tunes by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter including Alexander’s Rag Time Band,  Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails, S’Wonderful, Someone to Watch Over Me, Another Op’nin‘, Another Show, Anything Goes and of Puttin’ On the Ritz.

There was a tribute to Al Jolson with Rock a Bye Your Baby and Swanee, Cab Calloway’s Minnie the Moocher gets an outing, and Judy Garland was remembered with The Trolley Song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and a delightful A Couple of Swells from Easter Parade.

As with most touring shows of this genre, Puttin’ on the Ritz was simply staged featuring a sparkling star-cloth background bordered by draped red velvet curtains. Dozens of colourful, feather and sequin trimmed costumes provide that glamorous touch.

Despite all the glamour on stage, this performance of Puttin’ on the Ritz seemed unsettled. Maybe the cast weren’t used to performing a two-show day? For all the razzamatazz, the show lacked style and attention to detail – there’s no excuse for a poorly tied necktie – gentlemen please take note…

While the choreography was inventive, the mixed choreology of the eras and ragged execution was disappointing. However, the front of stage slap dance was impressively executed and a definite crowd-pleaser.

While Puttin’ on the Ritz lacks a live on-stage band, the well produced backing tracks accompany the six singers (Miles Braithwaite, Graham Mcduff, Shauna Olley, Sean Smith, Robyn Tempest, and London-based Australian Tamara Eden) who each, perform admirably. None more so than Graham Mcduff and Shauna Olley’s rendition of the Fred Astaire and Judy Garland classic, A Couple of Swells from Easter Parade – which was the evenings musical highlight.

Puttin’ On the Ritz
Frankston Arts Centre, Davey Street, Frankston
Performance: Saturday 8 June 2019 – 7.30pm

Puttin’ On the Ritz continues its tour across Australia throughout June. For more information, including performance venues and dates, visit: www.puttinontheritztour.com for details.

Image: Puttin’ On the Ritz (supplied)

Review: Rohan Shearn