BOY MEETS BOY
book by Bill Solly and Donald Ward music and lyrics by Bill Solly.
Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street SW1Y 6ST To 20 December 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu, Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS 0207 287 2875.
Review: William Russell 25 November.
Boy’s Own Caper.
This dazzling pastiche 1930s musical comedy was an off Broadway hit in 1975, but for various reasons never crossed the Atlantic. Finally it has arrived as the farewell production by Jermyn Street’s artistic director Gene David Kirk and it couldn’t be more fun.
Bill Solly and Donald Ward had an inspired idea – a man marrying a man is socially acceptable and by setting their gay romance in the 1930s they are also able to use the clichés of all those Astaire/Rogers/Kern musicals of the time to dazzling comic effect. People fail to recognise people they know because they have taken off their glasses for example.
Rich American is jilted at the altar by impoverished British aristocrat. Older, hard drinking ‘manising’ journalist decides to do the story and falls for an idealised version of the aristocrat, who turns out to be the young, ever-so plain nerd he found sleeping beneath his hotel bed after a marvellous party. Of course, when the lad takes off those horn rimmed specs you get the Peggy Sawyer moment from 42nd Street. But the path of true love is far from smooth.
Naturally everyone goes to gay Paree, where the nerd’s naughty auntie is a star of the follies, the nerd ends up as the resident stripper, the journalist gets snared by the nasty Rich American, hero and hero find they have something in common – both were once boy scouts – and it all ends happily ever after.
There are four gorgeous chorus girls, four even more gorgeous chorus boys, lavish costumes, a nice set, a terrific band, good jokes, great lyrics and tunes of which Sandy Wilson, the master of this sort of pastiche,would surely approve.
Plus stand-out performances from Ben Kavanagh as Clarence the nasty millionaire whose favourite topic is himself, Stephen Ashfield as Casey the hard liquor-quaffing hack with a matador in his past (he has the bull’s ear to prove it) and Craig Fletcher as Guy, the young posh boy. Even if he does occasionally sing flat. But that could be a joke. Ruby Keeler’s singing was not up to much after all.
What with all the fuss about gay marriage at the moment it is even topical – well maybe that is stretching things. But Mr Kirk is leaving on a high note. I saw it in preview at a matinee on a wet Sunday and it dispelled the Sabbath gloom completely.
Casey O’Brien: Stephen Ashfield.
Guy Rose: Craig Fletcher.
Andrew: Johnjo Flynn.
Clarence Cutler: Ben Kavanagh.
Lady Rose/Josephine La Rose: Anna Nicholas.
Ensemble: Benjamin Bailey, Curly Macke vie, Nicola Martin, Gregory Sims, Bianca Sheena, Helen Turner, Jay Webb, Aaron Wild.
Director: Gene David Kirk.
Designer: Alice Walkling.
Lighting/Sound: Phil Hewitt.
Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Choreographer: Lee Proud.
Associate director: Max Barton.
Associate Musical director: Richard Furstenhelm.