Top Hat Stage Musical Pays Tribute To Fred and Ginger - Alyn Hawke Interview



The classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film musical Top Hat comes to life on the stage of Wales Millennium Centre next week. Packed full of Irving Berlin’s greatest hits including, Cheek to Cheek, Top Hat, White Tie & Tails, Let’s Face the Music & Dance and Puttin’ on the Ritz, Top Hat tells the story of Broadway sensation Jerry Travers who dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont.

Stepping into the shoes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in the lead roles of Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont, are Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch who both return to Top Hat having previously performed these roles in the West End. Also part of the original West End cast is Bridgend born Alyn Hawke who returns to South Wales as part of the ensemble and Dance Captain for the show.

Alyn Hawke, Dance Captain for Top Hat
Alyn went to Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend before going on to train at Arts Educational Schools in London for a BA (Hons) in musical theatre. Going into theatre work was a fulfilment of a lifelong passion for Alyn. “I grew up watching all the old movie musicals,” he says, “My Gran was very keen on them. I always knew that’s what I wanted to be involved in, in some way.”

On completion of the course he joined the European tour of Evita before moving on to the West End production of Top Hat, three years ago. Alyn has continued with the production on its 42 week UK tour as Dance Captain. 

“In a nutshell, The Dance Captain is to be the choreographer’s eyes on the show,” says Alyn, “because although they create the show they don’t come on tour with us. The Dance Captain has to uphold what the choreographer’s standard and expectation of the show is. We therefore have to make sure everyone is doing the right choreography as well as taking company warm ups, there’s lots of different things we are involved with.”

In all Top Hat features 29 cast members, 20 of which are dancers. The production features many iconic scenes that fans will be familiar with but something different too. "There’s lots of iconic bits of which our choreographer stuck to," says Alyn, " It wasn't until later on in the process he was given permission to choreograph his own original routines rather than copy the film. There have been lots of variations as Top Hat has gone on. It has strayed further away from the film while still keeping an authentic 1930s Fred Astaire feel to it. There are so many nods to Fred and Ginger and the songs of Irving Berlin. As much as we’d like to, no-one could ever replicate exactly what Fred and Ginger created, so it’s nice it has those original touches with that in mind."

With the production maintaining that 1930s flair does Top Hat still stand up as good entertainment today? Alyn seems to think so. "Top Hat as a show is escapist, easy watching and elegant it’s such a lovely show to watch and be part of."
  • Top Hat is at Wales Millennium Centre from 14 – 24 January 2015. Tickets range between £18 - £46.50. Premium seats are available. For more information and to book tickets visit www.wmc.org.uk or call the ticket office on 02920 636464.
  • A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on January 9, 2015

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