In TOP HAT, Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers plays the irrepressible Broadway sensation Jerry Travers who dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society model Dale Tremont, played by triple Olivier Award nominee Summer Strallen (Love Never Dies, The Sound of Music, The Drowsy Chaperone). We chatted with Tom recently about his new role and why TOP HAT is the hottest ticket in the West End this Spring:
1. Top Hat is an iconic film but this is the first time that it has been brought to the stage. How does it feel to star in a world premiere in the West End?
It feels like a very special and momentous occasion. Not only is this a world premiere where this material has never been seen before on the stage, being chosen as the first actor to ever do it is like winning the lottery. There are so many talented people in the world I feel very lucky and privileged to be here. It's made doubly special that it's also my West End debut! And on top of that, if you can top that, it's the 2012 London Olympics so there's added excitement that Top Hat will be here to entertain everyone in the evening after they've had a great day watching the games. Two birds with one stone.
2. Were you a big fan of 1930’s Hollywood musicals before your role in Top Hat?
I was. I grew up on them. My school mates were into Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone while I was into Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Cary Grant! Like I was born into the wrong era, or maybe I was there and have come back for more!?
3. Why do you think the musicals of this era are so well-loved and enduring?
They are pure joy. There is nothing but sheer escapism to a time of glamour and the golden Hollywood era... beautiful musical orchestrations... stunning Fred & Ginger dance numbers and witty scripts. What more could you wish for?
4. How does it feel to be stepping into the shoes of Fred Astaire?
Terrifying in a word... then thrilling and exciting.... then terrifying again and repeat this sequence five or six times a day. Fred Astaire was a genius. How dare someone try and recreate his magic? Well, my desire is out of respect and inspiration by him. I'd rather have a go than not at all and every day I am slowly adding to the hundreds of hours spent finessing. I just love the style and hope the audience enjoys the delight my character Jerry Travers has for life in his dancing. I hope I can make Fred proud too.
5. Did your time on Strictly Come Dancing help you with the amazing dance routines in the show?
Without doubt I have Strictly and my professional dance partner Camilla Dallerup to thank for being here. Strictly gave me five months of one to one tuition, determination and stamina and a platform that the nation shared with me in my efforts to bring this kind of entertainment back.
6. Can audiences expect the same Fred and Ginger chemistry between you and co-star Summer Strallen?
You could say we started the same way Fred and Ginger did in the mystery of their working relationship. Summer and I had never worked together before and so we had very different learning styles of discovery which sometimes made it very challenging to be on the same page but now I couldn't live without her. Summer's stage experience VS my telly experience has meant she is directly responsible for all the polishing touches to my performance with the "fourth wall". She is truly wonderful and one of the best in the business. Our stage chemistry just gets better and better when you think it couldn't get any better!
7. How would you sum up the show in five words to persuade someone to book tickets?
Once in a lifetime... unless you come twice! (sorry... that was eight)
Joy. Glamour. Escapism. Golden Hollywood. (that's five)
If you liked the film the Artist, you'll love this (that's ten... at least I can count)