Tony Hefner as the Roué Lord Brockhurst Steals the Show in “The Boy Friend” at Raleigh Little Theatre

The Boy Friend (1953), English composer and lyricist Sandy Wilson’s sublimely silly spoof of the English musical comedies of the Roaring Twenties, is as sweet and tasty as a wisp of cotton candy. It is a piece of fluff; but frisky musical staging by long-time Raleigh Little Theatre artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons, choreographer Nancy Rich, and musical director Julie A. Florin transforms The Boy Friend into a light-and-lively crowd-pleasing production that kicks up its heels on splendid Art Deco sets by scenic designer Thomas Mauney, with its young but talented cast dancing the night away in eye-catching period outfits by costume and wig designer Vicki Olson.

Sarah Moore and Joshua Broadhurst star as poor little rich girl Polly Browne and her handsome but penniless beau, a messenger boy named Tony; but it is Triangle theater veteran Tony Hefner who steals the show as the aging roué Lord Brockhurst. Hefner, channeling his inner Harpo Marx, is a stitch. He mostly pantomimes his part as a pixilated peer in formal dress who ogles the girls at Mme. Dubonnet’s School for Young Ladies in the Villa Caprice in Nice, France, while dodging the disapproving gaze of his domineering wife Lady Brockhurst (a nice squinty-eyed cameo by Kate Tonner).

While Joshua Broadhurst’s Tony and Sarah Moore’s Polly delight RLT patrons by becoming besotted with each other, director Haskell Fitz-Simons grants Tony Hefner a license to steal — and he steals every scene in which he appears. Also earning sustained applause are RLT mainstay Alison Lawrence as headmistress Mme. Dubonnet and John Adams as her long-ago lover and Polly’s widowed father, millionaire Percival Browne. Paige Harper as Mme. Dubonnet’s maid Hortense; Sarah Winter as Polly’s madcap friend Maisie, Misha Nikitine as Maisie’s boyfriend Bobby, and Christina Hunt as Polly’s friend Dulcie also make the most of their supporting roles.

Although The Boy Friend is a trifle, Raleigh Little Theatre stages it with style and great wit. Tony Hefner’s comic characterization alone is worth the price of admission, but this exuberant community-theater presentation has a number of other virtues that will keep its viewers grinning from the first bouncy notes of the overture to the last note of the grand finale.

SECOND OPINION: June 13th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Tom Elrod (who awarded the show 2.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/homage-to-1920s-british-musical-comedies-in-the-boy-friend/Content?oid=3084804; and June 10th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Andrea McKerlie: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=5587. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of Triangle Theater Review’s June 7th preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/06/set-in-the-roaring-twenties-the-boy-friend-by-sandy-wilson-is-a-light-and-lively-musical-at-rlt/.)

Raleigh Little Theatre presents THE BOY FRIEND at 8 p.m. June 14-16, 3 p.m. June 17, 8 p.m. June 21-23, and 3 p.m. June 24 in the Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $22 ($18 students and seniors 62+).

BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111 or http://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/11-12/boyfriend.html.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/.

DIRECTIONS/MAP: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/map-directions.html.

PARKING: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/parking.html.

NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive listening devices are available for all shows.

OTHER LINKS:

The Musical: http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000013 (Music Theatre International), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Friend (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=2169 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066858/ (Internet Movie Database).

Sandy Wilson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Wilson (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).