Flawed musical still has charm

Chris Wasser

So, let me get this straight. Tracy Lord – a wealthy, Long Island socialite with few redeeming features and a hazardous taste for champagne – has three men falling about the place in a bid to win her love.

In one corner, we have the drunken fling (Mike Connor; a frustrated writer-turned-gossip reporter). In the other, we have the boring fiancé (George Kittredge). Weaving his way through this noisy ring, however, is Tracy's 'true love' (and ex-husband) Dexter Haven.

Dexter designs boats. Tracy's little sister, Dinah, loves him – so does Tracy's mother, Margaret. But why is everyone making a big deal over Margaret's daughter, eh? If there really is something about Tracy – a spoiled little rich girl whose feelings change as often as High Society's revolving set – then Arthur Kopit's script fails to bring it to light. Yet, despite a series of flaws, the production – based on both the 1956 film, High Society, and the 1939 play, The Philadelphia Story – is every bit as charming as its well-presented leading man (Michael Praed).

It is, essentially, one big love story, set between two houses in the summer of 1938. Liz (journo number two) loves Mike; Mike thinks he loves Tracy; Tracy's parents might be getting back together, so on and so forth.


At one point, the entire cast spend their evening legging it around the Lords' house looking for something to drink and someone to hold.

Pay too close attention to the details, and you'll forget that it's more likely Cole Porter's sugary ballads (You're Sensational, True Love) and toe-tapping, big-band numbers (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Well, Did You Evah?) that have kept this show's legacy alive.

For example, Praed's Dexter seems a little too old for Tracy. And even by sappy musical standards, the ending is just plain ridiculous, too.

And not everyone is as fine a vocalist as they think they are (a noticeably flat Praed springs to mind).

Luckily, Daniel Boys' Connor remembers to bring the house down, and, though clearly not the finest of musicals, High Society is still worth a trip to the theatre.

Running until tomorrow night HHHII