MEXICAN HAYRIDE: Cole Porter
Lilian Baylis Studio
The last in Ian Marchall Fisher’s LOST MUSICALS series
Running time two hours fifteen minutes – the show ended on Sunday, August 7.
Review: William Russell, 7 August 2011
Should the Mexican Hayride have stayed in Mexico?
Ian Marshall Fisher’s Lost Musical series has rescued many American musical from oblivion, deserved or not.
The format is simple – in essence it is the musical equivalent of a play reading of a musical as originally performed and not, as for instance with Crazy for You, a completely new musical based on the Gershwin’s Girl Crazy with added songs.
Cole Porter’s 1943 musical, Mexican Hayride, his commercially most successful, was one of those old style musical comedies created with the talents of its stars in mind. This presents anyone trying to do it now with problems. It was also lavishly staged by Mike Todd.
The Marshall Fisher policy is to have the cast in evening dress working from scripts.
Mexican Hayride’s success was due partly to its stars, partly to the fact it opened in wartime and had lots of girls in the chorus. The score is Porter on auto pilot. Even the hit number, I Love You, was a hit mainly because it was taken over by Bing Crosby, then at the height of his success. As for the plot devised by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, it is familiar from many a Hollywood musical rom com vehicle of the time – con man goes to Mexico, becomes under the Good Neighbour policy the man of the moment, and encounters his ex sister in law, a gorgeous lady bullfighter, a man from the Embassy, an assortment of comic Americans abroad and gets up to no good. This is the Fields paying the rent because original it is not.
That said the cast directed by Marshall Fisher do their best. Michael Roberts as Joe the American con man, a role created by a long forgotten comic called Bobby Clark, opts to play Groucho Marx instead to hilarious effect,and is backed brilliantly in the Mischau Auer sidekick role by lanky Jonathan Hansler as a Mexican con man.
But as the lady bull fighter, Montana, a role played by June Havoc, the usually reliable Louise Gold, a trouper to her fingertips, struggles in vain to make an impact. Raunchy sexy ladies are simply not her bag. Not that she is helped by Porter’s two numbers which are dreadful. As Lolita, a Mexican singer with no relevance to the plot, Wendy Ferguson is a delight, using her powerful opera trained voice to belt out her two songs which, no great shakes in themselves, are among the best of a run of the mill bunch.
Graham Bickley, as the Embassy man, gets to sing that hit number and Lost Musicals regulars Stewart Permutt and Myra Sands ham it up for all they are worth as assorted characters.
All concerned perform above and beyond, but while some musicals are worth rediscovering – this one was never staged in London – some should probably stay lost.
Lombo Compas: Jonathan Hansler
Mrs Augustus Adamson: Sophie Angelson
Mr Augustus Adamson: Stewart Permutt
Augustus Jr: Richard Linnell
Joe Bascom (alias Humphrey Fish): Michael Roberts
Montana: Louise Gold
1st girl: Helen Kelly
2nd girl; Jennifer Burman
Senor Martinez: David Anthony
Miguel: Alex Scott Fairley
Mrs Molly Wincor: Jennifer Burman
David Winthrop: Graham Bickley
Jose: Nic Gibney
Lydia Toddle: Stewart Permutt
Tille Leeds; Myra Sands
Lolita Cantine: Wendy Ferguson
Dagmar Marshak: Alice Redmond
Chief of Police: Stewart Permutt
Lottery Boy: Nic Gibney
Mrs Molly Wincor: Jennifer Burman
Lottery Girl: Helen Kelly
Lillian: Lana Green
Intern: Denise Koch
Publicist: Arthur Leone PR
Musical staging: Ewan Jones
Musical Director: Michael Haslam
Director: Ian Marshall Fisher
Producer: Lost Musical – The lost Musicals Charitable Trust