High Society

Musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, based on John Patrick's 1956 MGM Motion Picture High Society, and Philip Barry's 1939 play The Philadelphia Story.

Wealthy, elegant and priggish, Tracy Lord is about to embark on her second marriage to a successful but stuffy businessman. Her first husband, notorious socialite Dexter Haven, reappears attempting to win back his wife. Meanwhile, little-known tabloid reporter Mike Conner, also falls for Tracy while covering her nuptials for his magazine. Tracy must choose between the three men.

Based on the classic 1950's film starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Two stage adaptations have been presented in London's West End, the first by Richard Eyre in 1987, and the second by Arthur Kopit, which was first staged in London in 2003.

Richard Eyre Version: Original West End London Production 1987

Arthur Kopit Version: Original London Production 2003

Arthur Kopit Version: Original West End London Production 2005

Arthur Kopit Version: 1st West End London Revival 2015

The Richard Eyre version uses the following song list: How Do You Spell Ambassador? (from Leave It to Me); Hey, Good Lookin' (from Something for the Boys); Get Out Of Town (from Leave It To Me); Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?; Give Him the Oo-la-la (from Du Barry Was a Lady); Little One; I'll Black Your Eyes (from You Never Know); I Love You, Samantha; Well, Did You Evah?; Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love (from Leave It to Me); Now You Has Jazz; In the Still of the Night (from Rosalie); You're Sensational; True Love; High Society; and Well, Did You Evah?

The Arthur Kopit version uses the following song list (with additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead): High Society; Ridin' High (from Red, Hot and Blue); Throwing a Ball Tonight (from Panama Hattie); Little One; Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?; I Love Paris (from Can-Can); She's Got That Thing (from Fifty Million Frenchmen); Once Upon a Time (from Ever Yours); True Love; High Society; Let's Misbehave (from Paris); I'm Getting Myself Ready for You (from The New Yorkers); Once Upon a Time (from Ever Yours); Just One of Those Things (from Jubilee); Well, Did You Evah?; You're Sensational; Say It With Gin (from The New Yorkers); Ridin' High (from Red, Hot and Blue); It's All Right With Me (from Can-Can); He's a Right Guy (from Something for the Boys); I Love You, Samantha; and True Love.

Cole Porter's other West End musicals include Anything Goes and Kiss Me Kate.


Richard Eyre Version: Original West End London Production 1987

Previewed 13 February 1987, Opened 25 February 1987, Closed 16 January 1988 at the Victoria Palace Theatre

The original cast featured Trevor Eve as 'C. K. Dexter Haven', Stephen Rea as 'Mike Connor', Natasha Ricardson as 'Tracy Samantha Lord', Angela Richards as 'Liz Imbrie', Ronald Fraser as 'Uncle Willie', Ann Firbank as 'Margaret Lord', Robert Swales as 'George Ketteridge', Alan Barry as 'Seth Lord', and Amanda Rosen as 'Dinah Lord', with Simon Clark, Ray Davison, Briony Glassco, Tom Griffin, Richard Hainsworth, Paul Haley, Ian Hanham, Joanne Heywood, Susan Holland, Kate Kenny, Robin Kingsland, Jeffery Pepper, Gail Rolfe, and Moira Young.

The 'second' cast from Monday 10 August 1987 through to Saturday 16 January 1988 featured Patrick Ryecart as 'C. K. Dexter Haven', Steven Pacey as 'Mike Connor', Julie Osburn as 'Tracy Samantha Lord', Angela Richards as 'Liz Imbrie', Ronald Fraser as 'Uncle Willie', Ann Firbank as 'Margaret Lord', and Robert Swales as 'George Ketteridge'.

Directed by Richard Eyre, with choreography by David Toguri, sets by John Gunter, costumes by Sue Blane, lighting by Chris Ellis, and sound by Bobby Aitken.

Book by Richard Eyre.

A transfer from the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester where this production previewed from 19 November 1986, opened on 25 November 1986, and closed 16 January 1987, with the same original cast and creative team, with the exception of sound by Rod Mead.


Arthur Kopit Version: Original London Production 2003

Previewed 22 July 2003, Opened 24 July 2003, Closed 13 September 2003 at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

The cast featured Dale Rapley as 'C. K. Dexter Haven', Hal Fowler as 'Mike Connor', Annette McLaughlin as 'Tracy Samantha Lord', Tracie Bennett as 'Liz Imbrie', Brian Green as 'Uncle Willy', Brigit Forsyth as 'Mother Lord' ('Margaret Lord'), Walter Van Dyk as 'George Kittredge', Peter Forbes as 'Seth Lord', and Claire Redcliffe as 'Dinah Lord', with Jamie Beamish, Vivien Care, Gerard Carey, John Conroy, Lucy Cound, Neil Ditt, Penny-Belle Fowler, David Galloway, and John Stacey.

Directed by Ian Talbot, with choreography by Gillian Gregory, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor, and sound by Simon Whitehorn.

Book by Arthur Kopit, with additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.


Arthur Kopit Version: Original West End London Production 2005

Previewed 1 October 2005, Opened 10 October 2005, Closed 21 January 2006 at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Ian Talbot's acclaimed revival of Cole Porter's musical High Society in London - following a sell-out summer season at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2003

The original cast featured Graham Bickley as 'C. K. Dexter Haven', Paul Robinson as 'Mike Connor', Katherine Kingsley as 'Tracy Samantha Lord', Ria Jones as 'Liz Imbrie', Royston Kean as 'Uncle Willy', Jerry Hall as 'Mother Lord' ('Margaret Lord'), Bryan Torfeh as 'George Kittredge', James Jordan as 'Seth Lord', Claire Redcliffe as 'Dinah Lord', with David Alder, Giles Alderson, Thomas Aldridge, Cara Elston, Emma Dodd, Mark Hedges, Andrew Hutchings, Tony Kemp, Nina Krisofferson, Aly McInnes, Brenda Moore, and Nigel Watson.

Directed by Ian Talbot, with choreography by Gillian Gregory, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor, and sound by Gareth Owen.

On 2 November 2005 it was announced that Jerry Hall had to withdraw from this production due to illness - she said: "It is with great sadness that I have to leave the cast of High Society as I am suffering from Epstein Bar Virus (glandular fever) which I first fell ill with last year. My doctor has said that I must have a period of complete rest," adding that "I have had such a wonderful experience with a great cast and I wish them all the very best." The producers said: "We are very sorry. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope that we may see her back with us in the New Year." Unfortunately Jerry Hall did not return to the production before it closed in January 2006, and her role was played by her understudy, Ali McInnes.

Book by Arthur Kopit, with additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.

"This enchanting show takes the stage with all Porter's wit and charm and sophistication. Ian Talbot's masterful production is agile, swaggering and superbly funny, with a nice ironic edge. Paul Farnsworth has done an elegant set, and his costumes are splendid, except for Tracy's clothes, which look a bit too showbizzy; but Katherine Kingsley, like a beautiful blonde eagle, plays her with a cool elegance all of her own... The star is Jerry Hall, playing Tracy's mother and looking not a day older than her daughter. Hers is a ravishing performance, poised and polished, humorous and languorous, sly and sexy. One of the best musical revivals I've seen in years and years." The Sunday Times

"Ian Talbot's production is staged with some flair on Paul Farnsworth's handsome set of sculpted box hedging and white fencing... Katherine Kingsley, an animated show-jumping Barbie, her peroxide blonde mane sexily restrained by a hairnet, radiates pony-club proficiency rather than thoroughbred class. Graham Bickley plays Dexter as the ex without the X factor... The more accomplished Paul Robinson and Ria Jones, as the journalists hoping to dish the dirt, do their darnedest to sing and dance up a storm, but lack the requisite star quality to make this show the sensational, swell party it should be." The Mail on Sunday

"There's nothing wrong with this show that Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly couldn't fix. But, as they're all dead, it's unlikely they can help. So Ian Talbot's production - a hit at the Open Air Theatre at Regents Park two years ago - must struggle on without the aid of the stars of the 1956 movie. And struggle it will. What fizzed outside on balmy summer evenings has gone flat inside four walls - and fiddling with Cole Porter's lyrics and tampering with the script doesn't help keep the champagne bubbly. ... Mick Jagger's ex, Jerry Hall gets star billing, despite being cast only as Tracy's sweet-natured mother. Katherine Kingsley sings well as Tracy, Graham Bickley's Dexter is affable if bland, and song-and-dance man Paul Robinson displays an easy charm as reporter Mike Connor. But only Ria Jones, as feisty snapper Liz Imbrie, and Royston Kean as Tracy's uncle, inject any real exhilaration into what should be a feelgood show but ends up feel-average. Real high society would be more fun." The Sun

High Society in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 1 October 2005, opened on 10 October 2005 and closed on 21 January 2006


Arthur Kopit Version: 1st West End London Revival 2015

Previewed 30 April 2015, Opened 14 May 2015, Closed 22 August 2015 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of the Cole Porter musical High Society in London directed by Maria Friedman and staged in-the-round.

The cast featured Rupert Young as 'C.K. Dexter Haven', Jamie Parker as 'Mike Connor', Kate Fleetwood as 'Tracy Samantha Lord', Annabel Scholey as 'Liz Imbrie', Jeff Rawle as 'Uncle Willy', Barbara Flynn as 'Margaret Lord', Richard Grieve as 'George Kittredge', Christopher Ravenscroft as 'Seth Lord', and Ellie Bamber as 'Dinah Lord', with John Brannoch, Ricky Butt, Omari Douglas, Claire Doyle, Chris Ellis-Stanton, Leon Kay, Sammy Kelly, Paul Kemble, Zak Nemorin, Katherine Pearson, Philippa Stefani, Joe Stilgoe, and Rupert Young.

Directed by Maria Friedman, with choreography by Nathan M Wright, designs by Tom Pye, lighting by Peter Mumford, sound by Simon Baker.

Updated to 1958 by Maria Friedman, with book by Arthur Kopit, and with additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.

This was the last production at the Old Vic Theatre under the Artistic Directorship of Kevin Spacey before Matthew Warchus took over.

Kate Fleetwood's London theatre credits including playing the roles 'Goneril', opposite Simon Russell Beale as 'King Lear', in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's play King Lear at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2014; and 'Lady Macbeth' opposite Patrick Stewart in the title role of Rupert Goold's revival of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth at the Gielgud Theatre in 2007.

Jamie Parker's London stage credits include playing the the roles of 'Guildenstern' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Haymarket Theatre in 2011; and 'Oliver' in Thea Sharrock's revival of William Shakespeare's play As You Like It at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 2009.

Annabel Scholey's West End theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Kate' in David Leveaux's revival of Peter Nichols' Passion Play at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2013; 'Lady Anne' in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's Richard III at the Old Vic Theatre in 2011; and 'Julia' in Peter Hall's revival of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals at the Haymarket Theatre in 2010.

Although best known as an award-winning musical theatre actress, Maria Friedman made her West End directing debut with an acclaimed award-winning revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2012, and transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2013.

When this production opened at the Old Vic Theatre in May 2015, Michael Billington in the Guardian said: "I can't imagine this Cole Porter musical being much better done than it is here... It all makes a festive climax to Kevin Spacey's tenure of the Old Vic Theatre." "What a treat this show is," hailed Holly Williams in the Independent. "The in-the-round staging lends a rare intimacy for a musical of this pomp, helping the effervescent cast and swinging, superb band sweep the audience up with them." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "the highlight is a stunning rendition of Cole Porter's refreshingly naughty Let's Misbehave ó with twirling, swooping choreography by Nathan M Wright." Serena Davies in the Daily Telegraph wrote: "Well, Did You Evah? A show that looked destined for a dutiful three stars come interval time turns itself round so entirely in the second half that Kevin Spacey's final piece of programming for the Old Vic may prove one of the hits of the summer... Maria Friedman knows a thing or two about delivering barn-storming song-and-dance." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times commented that "Maria Friedman's move from musical theatre performance into direction is only enhanced by her touch here... she takes care to ensure a constant yet unforced vivacity onstage... and Nathan Wright's choreography is synchronised without looking drilled." Although Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail thought that "this show is not perfect," adding that he "was unconvinced by the decision to stage it in the round," he concluded by saying: "All hail an uncomplicated, super show." Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighed that "Maria Friedman creates a party on stage at the Old Vic for her rollicking production... The prancing ensemble of butlers and maids is a delight, bringing a flourish to the set changes as well as the dance sequences." Dominic Maxwell in the Times described as being an "elegant rendition of Cole Porterís romantic comedy musical."

High Society in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 30 April 2015, opened on 14 May 2015 and closed on 22 August 2015.