FROM THE SCREEN
TO THE STAGE Modern take on a festive favourite Comedy to follow Biblical remake
Clearly a man who doesn’t like to fail, three months after Ted Chapin had written to him and explained that Irving Berlin’s daughters didn’t like the idea of a stage musical of Top Hat, he decided to roll the dice. “I wrote to Ted and told him I was going to be in New York in a month’s time. I didn’t mention Top Hat, just that I was a producer and, as I was in New York, would he spare me twenty minutes,” says Wax. “Fortunately he did and I bought a plane ticket. When I met him, I walked into his office and confessed immediately that I really wanted to do Top Hat and I had no other meeting in New York – he was my sole reason for being there.”
The gamble paid off – after a fashion. Chapin was interested, or at least impressed by Wax’s tenacity, but he couldn’t speak for Berlin’s daughters. They happened to be due in that week and Chapin wondered if, having come this far, Wax would postpone his return flight by a day to meet with them. Finally Wax got to pitch to Berlin’s daughters directly.
“I essentially asked them what they were waiting for. My daughter was eight at the time and I told them that Irving Berlin, Fred and Ginger – those names didn’t mean anything to her. This was an opportunity to bring their father’s music to life for an entirely new generation.”
They agreed. Then the work began. As a producer Wax is used to pulling together creative teams – that’s what he does. Top Hat was going to be the biggest scale productions of his career. He threw everything at it.
Staying in regular contact with Berlin’s daughters, he explained his plans, shared design ideas. At one point he went to them with the ideas of one of the characters and they suggested the perfect song for the character from their father’s back catalogue of over 2,000.
The show opened on August 16, 2011, touring the UK before entering the West End and winning multiple Olivier awards when it did so, following seven nominations.
The show arrives in Leeds next week on a second UK tour and just because it’s second time around doesn’t mean Wax has taken his eye off the ball.
“We could have toured it a little more cheaply, but we want people to get the full experience of Top Hat,” says Wax. “It has the glamour and the elegance that I first talked about with those friends over dinner those five or six years ago. It’s a show I’m really proud of.” THE UK’s oldest working theatre in the region are staging a contemporary seasonal pantomime.
Puss in Boots was originally a folk tale written by Charles Perrault in 1697 and this version comes with a modern twist.
Set in the early 1960s it features robots, evil scientists and space monsters, instead of princes and princesses.
Puss in Boots will be performed at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond until January 4.
For tickets contact the box office on 01748 825252, or visit www.georgiantheatreroyal. co.uk. A NEW comic play – told almost entirely in rhyme – is offering a new take on familiar Bible stories and characters. Untitled Bible Sequel is the third play by young Ilkley-based playwright Ash Caton, who also directs the production. The plot centres on a film production company embarking on a big-budget remake of the Holy Bible.
You can see the play at Ilkley Playhouse from December 21 to 23. Performances take place at 2pm on Sunday and 7.30pm on Monday and Tuesday. Tickets on 01943 609539 or online via www.ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk.
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