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