MY ONE AND ONLY
by George and Ira Gershwin, Peter Stone and Timothy S. Mayer
Festival Theatre. In Rep. to 22 September 2001.
Runs 2 hours 45 minutes. One interval
Tickets 01243 781312 Online www.cft.org.uk
Review Timothy Ramsden 24 July
Flavin and Dee lead a first-rate company in Gershwin musical.
The Stone/Mayer storyline may be from the 1980s but the Gershwin’s music and lyrics date back to the ’20s, especially the 1927 musical Funny Face which is the real – but not sole – origin of a score that includes He Loves and She Loves, ‘S Wonderful, and Nice Work if You Can Get It. If that’s not good enough, add Janie Dee as a Margate diving belle trapped in a Russian impresario’s dancing circus plus Tim Flavin as an aviator keen to be first solo over the Atlantic to belt and hoof it through the evening and you should have an ace show.Which, thanks to director Loveday Ingram, choreographer Craig Revel Horwood, designer Lez Brotherston, lighting man Chris Davey and music director Gareth Valentine, you very much do. Sure the plot’s self-proclaimed hokum, its modernism (planes, trains and elegant art deco everywhere) the lightest cover for a mushy message that being first, biggest and best may be what the U.S. is about but, what the heck, aw shucks, when the right girl comes along, well jeez, a man’s gotta do what biology tells him to get down to.
So the story swings from the aircraft hangar where Flavin’s Billy Buck Chandler prepares his planes, aided by female sidekick Mickey (Anna-Jane Casey), via a nightspot run by a pleasure-loving priest (Richard Calkin) to the makeover ‘Emporia’ of Mr Magix (Richard Lloyd King, with a superb mix of comedy and dance) till it ends up Morocco-bound.
But who’d argue with a storyline that turns the once title song Funny Face into a Ballad of the Red and the Fed. as Hilton McRae’s magnificently-acted Russian emigre saboteur Prtince Nikki is unmasked as a Stalinist agent, being sung to by suddenly-revealed FBI agent Mickey as she handcuffs him over a gasoline barrel?