Me and My Girl enthralls at 42nd Street Moon.

The Company of “Me and My Girl” playing at 42ndStreet Moon’s Gateway Theatre through May 20, 2018. Photo by Ben Krantz

ME AND MY GIRL: Musical. Book and lyrics by L. Arthur Rose & Douglas Furber, revised by Stephen Fry with contributions by Mike Ockrent, and music by Noel Gay. Directed and choreographed by Mindy Cooper.  42nd Street Moon, Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA. (415) 255-8207 or  www.42ndstmoon.org. MAY 2 – 20, 2018.

Me and My Girl enthralls at 42nd Street Moon. Rating: ★★★★★

If you are looking for an evening of great fun head over to the Gateway Theatre (Formerly the Eureka Theatre) and see the sparkling dance and song filled staging of Me and My Girl that had its opening on Saturday night. Your toes will be tapping while you hum the signature song that earned it the sub-title of THE “LAMBETH WALK” MUSICAL.

ME AND MY GIRL was created in 1937 London. The screwball plot starts with the aristocratic snooty Harefords looking for the legitimate heir to the title of XIV Earl of Hareford. It is discovered that the XIII Lord of the manor had a hidden “love child.” That turns out to be a Cockney man named Bill Snibson with Cockney manners. However, in order to be named the rightful Earl he must convince the executors that he can learn to be a proper gentleman. 

Bill is reluctantly and hilariously up to the task but his Cockney girlfriend, Sally Smith is not. It is suggested that Sally return to down-trodden Lambeth but love interferes with “Once You Lose Your heart.” At the party given to welcome the new Earl Sally shows up with her cockney friends and the dichotomy of social orders gains strength ending Act I with a rousing “The Lambeth Walk” and Sally to return to London.

In Act II time has passed and Bill has almost accepted the “gentlemanly demeanor” and even (sort of) makes a speech in the House of Lords dressed in Royal Red Ermine cape and wearing a crown. In the meantime the story line steals a device from G. B. Shaw’s “Pygmalion” and Lord John hires an instructor (Henry Higgins???) and makes Sally into a Lady.

Before that happens the authors have included “The Song of Hereford” and “Love Makes the World Go Round” with the ancestor statuary coming to life sharing in the song and dance. Yes, love eventually wins out with a rousing closing number.

You do not have to be content with just that one or two numbers since it is chuck full of hummable songs along with ballads and comic Music Hall ditties.  The laughs begin in the first scene that is set is a mansion in the snooty enclave of Haverford on the attractive set by Brian Watson that surrounds an open area giving the cast room to shake a leg even with the full 15 member cast on stage and with dances flowing into the aisles.

Those 15 members are some of the best musical actors and dancers in the Bay Area. They are led by the irrepressible Keith Pinto whose infectious energy carries across the stage apron. He is the “Me” (Bill Snibson) and the charming dulcet voiced Melissa Wolfklain is the “Girl” (Sally Smith). To buttress them they have included Michael Patrick Gaffney (Sir John Tremayne) who seems to have played on every local stage and beyond. The object of Sir John’s affection is the hard-nosed Duchess of Dene played by that always professional Milissa Carey. Colin Thomson (The butler and ensemble) has played leads and character roles and his demeanor is always a scene stealer. Michael Barrett Austin is a mainstay at 42nd Street Moon and introduces humor in the first scene as Herbert Parchester with “The Family Solicitor.” There is not a single weak performance of those not mentioned and the ensemble performances are solid.

The direction and choreography by Mindy Cooper does not miss a beat including the tap and soft shoe dancing. The three piece on-stage orchestra under the baton of Dave Dobrusky add perfect backup to the singing and accompaniment to the dancing. You will not forget Liz Martin’s costumes that seem to change in every scene. The entire cast comes out for the finale in tuxedos and evening dresses to receive the appreciative applause of the full house opening night audience.  Running time two hours and 15 minutes with an intermission and earns a solid ‘must see’ rating..

CAST: Michael Barrett Austin as “Herbert Parchester/Ensemble,” Milissa Carey as “Maria, Duchess of Dene,” Michael Patrick Gaffney as “Sir John Tremayne,” Scott Hayes as “Sir Jasper Tring,” Nicole Helfer as “Pearly Queen/Ensemble,” Andrew Mondello as “Bob Barking/Ensemble,” Brittney Monroe as “May Miles/Ensemble,” Lee Ann Payne as “Mrs. Brown/Ensemble,” Keith Pinto as “Bill Snibson,” Daniel Thomas as “The Hon. Gerald Bolingbroke,” Colin Thomson as “Heatherset/Ensemble,” Melissa WolfKlain as “Sally Smith,” Nicholas Yenson as “Pearly King/Ensemble” and “Elise Youssef as “Lady Jacqueline Carstone.”

CREATIVE TEAM: In addition to Ms. Cooper and Mr. Dobrusky, the creative team will include Nicole Helfer as Associate Choreographer, Brian Watson as Set Designer, Liz Martin as Costume Designer, Dave Lam as Lighting Designer, Lynne Soffer as Dialect Coach, Lauren Howry as Assistant Stage Manager and Alicia Lerner as Stage Manager.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

The Company of “Me and My Girl” playing at 42ndStreet Moon’s Gateway Theatre through May 20, 2018. Photo by Ben Krantz