Tom Chambers said last night that he felt honoured that Fred Astaire’s daughter was in the audience for the West End opening of the musical Top Hat.
The Strictly Come Dancing champion stars with Summer Strallen in the new stage production based on the 1935 RKO film with Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Speaking after the gala opening at the famous London Aldwych Theatre, Ava Astaire McKenzie said Chambers was “wonderful” in the role made famous by her father.
“There will always be comparisons, but what this show has done is bring a version to the world to see for the future,”
Directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer, the musical sees Broadway star Jerry Travers (Chambers) pursue girl-of-his-dreams Dale Tremont (Strallen) across Europe, but things get complicated when she mistakes him for her best friend’s husband.
Chambers said after the show that having Astaire’s daughter in the audience was “one degree of separation from the man himself”.
“It’s the biggest honour you could give to someone,” he said.
“I was able to touch the very ring that he wore in the 1935 film that she now wears – so I hope if he’s watching down from somewhere he’s not cursing – he’s saying ‘you did good, you’re entertaining people’.”
The musical includes Irving Berlin’s songs from the original film, such as Cheek to Cheek and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.
In addition, 10 further songs from Berlin’s back catalogue have been added including Let’s Face the Music and Dance and Puttin’ On the Ritz.
Berlin’s daughters also attended the opening night. They had given their permission for their father’s songs to be used after being approached by the show’s producer, Kenny Wax.
“You don’t mess with Fred Astaire,” Chambers said. “You know it’s going to be impossible to emulate him. I hope the audience think I’m not miles off the mark.”
Summer Strallen said: “I wouldn’t dream of saying I was a patch on Ginger Rogers. I would love to be. That’s what I aspire to do, and if I even come close I’d be happy.”
In case you’ve never seen Fred and Ginger in the movie, here’s a clip, enjoy!