BWW Reviews: GCT Revives a Sturdy ME AND MY GIRL
An eclectic little musical from the 1930s Me and My Girl became a huge Broadway hit in revival in 1986 and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. I must admit I have never seen the show before, and at first glance, to me it is more off-Broadway than full-scale Broadway fare. Akin to The Boy Friend or Little Mary Sunshine, it is frivolous and fun with a couple of good songs, among them the huge hit "The Lambeth Walk" which became the title of the movie in the late 30s. But the major appeal of the piece is its leading man Bill Snibson (Danny Michaels), a cockney nobody who suddenly finds out that he is heir to the Earl of Hareford and must pass a test to inherit the fortune that accompanies it. His girlfriend from Lambeth Sally (Lyndie Renee) is of course crude and streetwise like him and not approved of by the Duchess (Dynell Leigh) who must school William in the ways of the gentry. Now in a fine production at GCT directed and choreographed by Orlando Alexander, Me and My Girl should be an instant hit due to its excellent staging and terrific leading players.
Of course, the play is a satire on class, kind of Eastenders meet Westenders, if only to brush up against one another ever so slightly. Bill realizes he is not a fit and when he is told that he must give up Sally, he would rather stay with her than continue the charade, despite the millions at stake. Michaels as Bill is a treasure. A physical comedian of the highest order, he is a joy to watch. One scene is particular where he dons a purple robe as Earl is hilarious, simply because of everything that the actor manages to do with the cape around him. He does everything but sink into the floor, just about. It's an amazing turn, and his comic asides/ad-libs are equally silly and delightful, as when he falls to the floor and looks at a man in the front row, declaring "I've fallen and I can't get up!" or when he sees a line of aristocrats at a party and states emphatically "It's the ticket line for the Book of Mormon!" Michaels is a cutup and never lets up and owns the role, bringing talent, skill and pleasure to every single moment he is onstage. Lovely to look at and with a beautiful voice is Renee who gives Sally the edge she needs. She makes her a terribly enjoyable rustic gal. Leigh steals all of her scenes but is especially wonderful while working opposite Michaels. Her timing and delivery are perfection. It is great to see the ever resourceful Karen Volpe playing Lady Jacqueline, the vamp who tries to seduce Bill Snibson. As usual she sings divinely and looks ever so sexy. Stand outs as well are Dale Jones as Sir John, and Todd Andrew Ball as Gerald. Kudos to the entire ensemble for some lovely dancing, singing and cavorting throughout.
Apart from "The Lambeth Walk", the only other ntoable tune is the lovely ballad "Once You Lose Your Heart" which Sally initially sings in Act I and which is reprised once again by her in Act II. Orlando Alexander has nicely staged the piece and the ensemble move happily and energetically in all of the dance numbers. Tim Dietlein has done a spectacular job in designing set pieces, especially the huge portraits of the ancestors that talk. Angela Wood Costumes have deisgned some perfect period attire, but I questioned one or two gowns worn by Miss Volpe. The backless look is assuredly sexy and she looks fab in them, but did they wear such daring dresses back in the 30s?
Go to Me and My Girl for sheer entertainment and you will have a splendid evening of mirth. The direction, the cast are super, and watch out for the hysterical antics of Danny Michaels, who steals the show in many, many places. I remember as a little boy being mesmerized by a live performance in summer stock from Martha Raye in Call Me Madam. Even when she broke character, she was one.of.a.kind brilliantly funny. For me, Danny Michaels becomes the male Martha Raye. He is the main reason to see this show!