Breakfast at Tiffany’s is somewhat of a classic. The LBD, pearls, gloves and hat combo, all paired with perfectly manicured nails and not a hair out of place, were styled so sophisticatedly by Audrey Hepburn at the height of her career that they formed arguably one of the last century’s most timeless looks.
Of course, aesthetics alone aren’t what cemented Breakfast at Tiffany’s as among the most successful films to emerge from the 1960s. While everyone can appreciate a hefty dose of old-school glamour, the focal point is undeniably the chic way in which it set the pace for romantic comedies for generations to come.
Playing Tiffany is famously no mean feat. Audrey Hepburn herself, already an accomplished actress having starred in Roman Holiday and become the first woman to win an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Bafta for the same performance, deemed it one of her most challenging roles, partly due to being an introvert having to step into such an extrovert’s shoes. But it paid off, because the United States Library of Congress remember it as ‘culturally and historically significant’, and various images from its cinematography still resonate around the world today.
So, you can imagine bringing such an iconic show to Cardiff could raise some difficulties. Beyond the obvious fact that Audrey Hepburn can no longer inhabit the titular role, New Theatre lacks the size of many other great venues. So would this cast be able to retain the charm preserved in history that makes Breakfast at Tiffany’s such a hit, while updating it in their own unique manner to hopefully be well-received by contemporary audiences? Would the staging and arrangements of Cardiff’s New Theatre do it justice?
Well, the answer is definitely yes. As ever, New Theatre deserves praise – they’ve been satisfying theatre fans from South Wales and beyond since 1906, and they’re still doing it impressively. Not only is it a lovely building, but the ambience and effort the entire team put in is easy to see, and perhaps more so in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
However, it was the fantastic collaboration of the crew that really made the show work. Georgia May Foote of Coronation Street fame well and truly burst the soap bubble (sorry) in her stunning portrayal of Holly Golightly, which, as aforementioned, is a difficult role to master – not just due to her almost universal recognisability, but for other factors such as the combination of different styles of both music and drama. For me, stand-out scenes included Holly’s emotion when discussing her brother, Fred, and the rawness of her singing and guitar-playing. This was made even more impressive given the fact that Georgia is likelier to act on TV than stage, and although she shimmied her way to being named Runner-Up in Strictly Come Dancing, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is her theatrical debut.
Although Georgia was both the most famous performer and lead role, the actors who less frequently graced the stage were in no way overlooked. Special mention has to go to the character of the cat – no synthetic props in this production, which went down a treat because the organised way in which it navigated the set evoked lots of appreciation from the audience.
All in all, Breakfast at Tiffany’s did an effective job of transporting Cardiff to three different worlds, while literally staying under the roof of New Theatre. We viewers hopped across the pond for the evening to the Big Apple, and far away from the 21st Century, in the form of fluctuating between 1944 and 1957.
The Tony and Olivier Awards to playwright Richard Greenberg’s name will come as no surprise – he’s adapted this tour to include an energetic revival while not detracting from what’s always made Breakfast at Tiffany’s so special, so while the intricacies of the plotline need no introduction, rest assured Cardiff’s take on the show is something all viewers, whether die-hard fans or theatre novices, can get behind.
The Welsh stint is running until 12th November, before the nationwide tour concludes on the 19th in Norwich. And finally, thank you to Quench Culture for accompanying me – I’m normally found editing Quench Food, but am totally fine with swapping to the Culture side of things for the night!
by Ellie Philpotts
Georgia May Foote is every bit the star as Holly Golightly. The petite actress commanded the stage as the eccentric socialite and kept the audience engaged throughout, yet Charlie de Melo as Fred is also particularly likeable. His character spoke out into the audience throughout, keeping us updated on his and Holly’s story, and helped the scenes to transition smoothly. The supporting characters were also very well-written and acted and I was completely invested in their story throughout.
I think it is only natural to be sceptical of British actors putting on American accents, but Breakfast at Tiffany’s was no need for concern. The accents were good, and I was especially surprised by Foote’s sublime singing voice. Yet, I did hope that there might be more musical pieces from her as they were so well received by the audience. Comedic interventions were a-plenty, from all of the cast, and these added only to the entertainment factor.
I did feel transported to times gone by with Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Set during the 1940s and 1950s, there is certainly a nostalgic feel to the stage play, with all the glamour and sophistication of New York City. The set, although seemingly simple, was intricately designed and involved sliding pieces which helped to develop the narrative and introduce characters quickly. The stage space was used economically: particularly good was the opening scene of the play in which a previous conversation is cleverly recreated as being told to Fred in the present. Introducing characters at the same time, although in different places added to the depth of the production and made it more tangible than it may have otherwise been.
However, I would have liked only to have seen more development of the characters, but this might be because I am new to Breakfast at Tiffany’s (yes, I know, I’ve still not seen the film). Surprising was the appearance of an actual (and very well behaved) cat, who was met by the audience with a collective “Ahhhhh!”
All in all, a shimmering performance from all of the cast and Georgia May Foote especially made the role her own. New Theatre is a welcoming space and I thoroughly enjoyed my evening.
by Hannah Hopkins