Monday, September 10, 2007

The Boy Friend - Friend of Girls - Musical Review

The Boy Friend - Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - London

I never really knew much about this musical from the 50's that pays homage to the musicals of the 20's (Man in Chair anybody?) except that Julie Andrews was in the original Broadway production, so I thought I would catch this little ditty written by Sandy Wilson.

It was a cute production that verges on playing it knowingly for laughs but stays this side of earnestness in the simpleness of the entire story (basically poor little rich girl meets aristocrat boy pretending to be poor, some confusion and comedy of errors and alas, both are rich, so everything's fine! Isn't life swell?). Life is beautiful as the pastel colours, the bathing suits of seasons past, the umbrellas and sand castle sets wonderfully evoke a light airy France on the Mediterranean in Nice.

At first the show probably seemed a little too simple, and I wasn't sure if they were actually mocking themselves or not, but by the time the central love story was in full bloom (and of course, that means in a musical, it's love at first sight over the course of one song), I sort of surrendered to the lightness of the whole musical, and sat back to enjoy the cute love story, the high jinx, the comedic supplementary characters, and all that Charleston dancing (although maybe I was used to So You Think You Can Dance or A Chorus Line or Susan Stroman quality but it wasn't quite there in this production, decent but not exceptional). It was also nice to see the young girls ensemble not look like sticks, though the young men ensemble were a little bland, especially next to the likable lead Tony (above), Richard Reynard.

It was light and frothy (I've been using that a lot to describe a few musicals of late haven't I?) and perfect for a warm summer evening (though it's getting quite chilly in London). The music is enjoyable (if not the most memorable) and is directed in a nice post-ironic musical feel that is full of earnestness, hope and a bit of fairytale dreaming, for a surprisingly slightly modern feminist take where the girl generally takes the lead.

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