Me and My Girl
nytheatre.com review by Lisa Ferber
October 24, 2006
Me and My Girl, a Musicals Tonight! production, is pure delight. This is a truly crowd-pleasing play. Originally performed in London in 1937, it was an enormous hit. It then had a London revival in 1985, prompting a Broadway showing which ran for 1,420 performances. It was the first ever musical comedy televised in its entirety direct from a theatre.
The play uses a classic '30s theme of class differences, along with the eternal theme of romance, both new and old. The cast is dressed in period wear involving pretty dresses and parasols for the ladies, and bow ties and vests for the gentlemen.
It revolves around an unapologetically unrefined fellow called Bill who learns that he is the 14th heir to the Earl of Hareford. He will only receive his inheritance, however, if Sir John and the Duchess (played by the intrepid and endearing Annette Hunt) approve of him. Will Bill smooth his rough edges and gain acceptance? Will he ditch his true love, Sally, and succumb to the aggressive flirtation of gold-digging, elegant Jacqueline?
But of course the play is not a mystery. It's a story about love. The script, written by L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, revised by Stephen Fry, is chock full of great lines, as are the lyrics, also by Rose and Furber. Sample dialogue bits include: "Well, you could get a job." "Work? Jackie! Disgrace the family name?...Get up before noon?" and "What do you live on?" "Me wits." "You must be severely undernourished."
Lyrics are funny and smart: "While I'm young and healthy / I'll find someone wealthy" and "You're like an apple on top of a tree / I'd like to shake you and see you fallin' for me."
The cast is too large to mention one by one, but special mention must be given to George S. Irving. Irving was nominated for a Tony for his 1986 performance of Sir John Tremayne, the role he reprises in this production. Irving is tremendous to watch. He is in full command of his comedic skills, can roll his Rs like nobody's business, and the audience clearly adores him.
The show runs 2-½ hours long. I am of the generation that was raised on MTV and quickly developed a short attention span. Me and My Girl never feels lengthy—in fact while I am aware that the book and lyrics are not still "in development," I did find myself wishing that the musical finale had been longer. Just watching a cast of 18 gloriously attired, wonderfully talented performers—most of them glowing with joy and pride in knowing they showed us a great time—is something to behold. I look forward to seeing more Musicals Tonight! productions.