Review: Bolsover Drama Group

Amateur companies on tight budgets face a tall order in emulating the trappings of wealth demanded by the musical High Society.

There’s the small matter of a mansion, a swimming pool, a tennis court and copious amounts of bubbly quaffed by the upper-class beauty at the heart of the screwball comedy.

Bolsover Drama Group's production of High Society

Bolsover Drama Group's production of High Society

But a little imagination goes a long way as Bolsover Drama Group proves in this week’s production.

Copious scene changes mean it’s impossible to erect a house on stage at The Bolsover School so the cast and crew improvise. In one scene, six panels of wrought iron fencing are held up to mask the crew furnishing the interior of a luxury residence where a copy of the Mona Lisa alludes to the fabulous wealth of its owners.

Funds don’t stretch to creating a tennis court so the sound effect of a ball being hit does the job. And the famous swimming pool scene where the leading lady enjoys a drunken moonlight dip is represented by her appearing in a towelling robe.

The show is all about the lady - a goddess of withering glances who has a feisty temperament, an eye for the men and a love of alcohol. Michelle Simpson throws herself into the part of Tracy Lord with gusto, maintains a convincing American accent and her singing is at its best in the slow numbers

Michelle’s leading man is also her real-life fiance and the chemistry between them is sparky and heart-warming by turns. Dale Shaw gives a confident portrayal of Dexter, who still holds a candle for his ex-wife and eventually wins her back.

The other two men in Tracy’s life - her hubby to be George and one-night-stand Mike - are played by Peter Maddison and Istvan Koszegi.

There’s some glorious comedy and great singing from Paul Holland as the drunken, skirt-chasing Uncle Willie and Julie Clifford as photographer Liz who is the object of his desire.

The future of the group is safe in the hands of its teenagers as Charlotte Blunt proves in her praiseworthy debut with the adults. She plays Dinah, the French-speaking, ballet-dancing younger sister of Tracy.

Judith Doram and Ray Wignall play their parents, torn apart by a scandal but brought back together by love.

High Society runs until Saturday, October 11, and is directed by Leanne Collins, Ray Hall and Mick Whitehouse, produced by Wendy Blunt and the musical director is Nigel Turner.

GAY BOLTON