Southern Regional Theatre Co Performing The Boy Friend

Dated: 02/27/2014

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“The Boy Friend” may seem like a hard sell, but it’s fun and light-hearted. The show, being performed by the Southern Regional Theatre Co. this Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26, 27, 28 and March 1, at 7 p.m. at the Joseph P. Echle Performing Arts Center in Southern Regional High School’s 9/10 building, didn’t produce any hit songs or standards even though it opened on Broadway in 1954, when musical theater numbers were still a staple of radio airplay. Sandy Wilson, the Englishman who wrote the show’s music, lyrics and book, is not a household name like other British musical theater composers, such as Andrew Lloyd Webber. The show hasn’t been produced on Broadway since a 1970 revival. It never won a Tony Award of any type, which is surprising considering Julie Andrews made her Broadway debut – one day after her 19th birthday – as its lead character, Polly Browne (Mary Martin won Best Actress in a Musical honors that year for “Peter Pan”). “The Boy Friend,” which opened in London’s West End in 1953, has always been much more popular in Great Britain than in the United States. The original West End production ran for 2,082 performances; the original Broadway production lasted 485. Yep, it is a tough sell. When it had an early-season run at Beach Haven’s Surflight Theatre last May and June, I gave it a thumbs-up review: “It’s all fluff,” I wrote then, ”featuring nice but forgettable music and stock characters. Yet this production, directed and choreographed by Norb Joerder, entranced this reviewer, who is not normally a fluff fan.” Despite the good review, “The Boy Friend” played to mostly sparse houses. Of course, the summer season started off slowly on all of LBI in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Hopefully the area has recovered sufficiently to allow more people to come out to this Southern production, directed by Jannah Tabbacchino and choreographed by Jessica Evans. Because as I wrote last spring, “It made for a good, if not challenging, evening of theater.” Have no doubt, the show has a purposely silly book. It is set in a French finishing school, Mme. Dubonnet’s (Melinda Gioe) School for Young Ladies, in 1920s France. All of the girls – Maisie (Lainey McCabe-Plenge), Dulcie (Madison Ernst), Fay (Lauren Sopher) and Nancy (Samantha Foster-Tiso) have boyfriends except for one English girl, Polly Browne (Taylor Sprague). Browne’s father, Percival (Gavin Cranmer), is quite wealthy and has warned her against golddiggers, so she doesn’t date, indeed is forced to make up a boyfriend to avoid shame. There’s only one problem with her plan: A carnival ball is rapidly approaching and her secret will be exposed unless she has a date. Well, when her ball costume, ordered by the school’s maid, Hortense (Victoria Sidorakis), arrives, it is delivered by Tony (Robert Connelly). They immediately fall for each other. Polly pretends to be a poor girl so as not to scare the mere delivery boy away. Little does she know that he is actually the son of Lord (Christian Eberhard) and Lady (Grace Van Meter) Brockhurst who is pretending to be poor so he can find a love who isn’t a social climber. Tony’s father is somewhat of a lecher and his mother rather a nag, but the family is definitely in Polly’s social class. To make a long story short, Polly and Tony eventually straighten everything out and get engaged to be married. In fact, all of the girls receive proposals at the end of the show-ending ball from Bobby (Chris Reed), Marcel (Noah Dondero), Pierre (Ian Mullin) and Alphonse (Austin Kriews). Even Percival Browne and Mme. Dubonnet announce they’re getting hitched. See, silly. But fun! “‘The Boy Friend’ takes us to the free-spirited fun of the 1920s French Riviera,” wrote Tabbacchino in a program note. “Though the writing and content of this work may come across as simple, or void of depth, it reflects exactly what the population craved at that time. The ‘Roarin’ ’20s,’ fondly referred to by the French as ‘années folles,’ meaning ‘crazy years,’ allowed society to break free from the feelings of devastation of the First World War, and ultimately let loose and enjoy the simple pleasures of life (whether it be via a chic short haircut, or the fabulous flailing of the Charleston!).” Just as it took a few years for people to recover from WWI, it has taken a full year and more for people to recover from Sandy. Maybe, unlike last spring, local theatergoers are finally ready to break free from the feelings of devastation and enjoy the free-spirited fun “The Boy Friend” can provide. Here’s another selling point for “The Boy Friend”: tickets are a mere $10 for adults and $8 for students. They may be purchased at the door starting at 6 p.m. before each performance.
Courtesy of: rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net
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Kim Pileggi

Greetings from Long Beach Island! I am a full time real estate agent specializing in LBI sales and summer rentals, servicing all of LBI and the surrounding mainland communities. I have earned several ....

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