×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Boy Friend

The revival of Sandy Wilson's 1954 valentine to 1920's musicals gets a loving kiss of its own from a novice helmer who nonetheless knows a few things about the material: Julie Andrews, who made her Broadway bow starring in the original a half-century ago. The production is a kind of family affair, with Andrews' ex-husband, Tony Walton, creating the sublime designs that perfectly capture the airy period sense of the show.

With:
Hortense - Bethe Austin Nancy - Margot de la Barre Maisie - Andrea Chamberlain Fay - Krysta Rodriguez Dulcie - Kirsten Wyatt Polly - Jessica Grove Marcel - Jordan Cable Alphonse - Scott Barnhardt Pierre - Andrew Briedis Madame Dubonnet - Nancy Hess Bobby Van Husen - Rick Faugno Percival Browne - Paul Carlin Tony - Sean Palmer Phillipe - Eric Daniel Santagata Monica - Renee Pugh Lord Brockhurst - Drew Eshelman Lady Brockhurst - Darcy Pulliam Gendarme, Waiter - Tom Souhrada

A correction was made to this review on Aug. 11, 2005.

The revival of Sandy Wilson’s 1954 valentine to 1920’s musicals gets a loving kiss of its own from a novice helmer who nonetheless knows a few things about the material: Julie Andrews, who made her Broadway bow starring in the original a half-century ago. She bases the new-old show on her 2003 staging at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater, run by her daughter, Emma Walton. In fact, the production is a kind of family affair, with Andrews’ ex-husband, Tony Walton, creating the sublime designs that perfectly capture the airy period sense of the show.

The East Haddam production is a delightful confection full of silliness, exuberance and style. But it remains to be seen if the show translates to larger stages once it leaves its storybook summer setting and hits the road on Goodspeed’s first national tour this fall.

Andrews’ name and, to a lesser extent, the Goodspeed brand will give the production initial cred and cachet but the starless show will have to sing and dance for itself in order to pull in auds.

Fortunately it has an agreeable cast (including one breakout perf by a dancing marvel, Rick Faugno), a tuneful score of pleasant pastiche numbers and a wide variety of inexhaustible steps by choreographer John DeLuca. F. Wade Russo leads the lively eight-piece pit band that keeps the music buoyant.

At a brisk two hours, tuner certainly doesn’t wear out its welcome. Andrews understands the characters are as thin as the two-dimensional backdrops, whimsically designed in period pastels by Walton. She stages the easily anticipated action with dispatch, simplicity and affection, keeping the generic girl-meets-boy-etc. plot playful without overdoing the corn or condescending with camp. Her smart strategy is to keep the tone light and bright (and that goes double for the sunny lighting by Richard Pilbrow and Dawn Chiang).

A few perfs push too hard, and should be reined in before they get broader, but for the most part the cast strike the right notes.

Jessica Grove stars as Polly (Andrews’ original role), the poor little rich girl longing for love in a finishing school on the Riviera. With a strong, clean soprano, Grove is pretty in pink and gives a perfectly enunciated, well-crafted perf. A bit more freshness and vulnerability might make her even more human, essential when she is surrounded by a world of cardboard cutouts and pampered posers.

Sean Palmer as the millionaire’s son who seeks a simpler life (he’s trying work as a bellboy when he meets Polly) is disarming and his singing, too, is lovely.

Drew Eshelman and Darcy Pulliam are a New Yorker cartoon come to life as Tony’s parents. Paul Carlin plays it amusingly straight as Polly’s father, while Nancy Hess is well poised and posed as the very French headmistress of the finishing school. Andrea Chamberlain is suitably sassy as Polly’s madcap pal Maisie.

But it is Faugno who is the standout as her boyfriend, Bobby. Few of the supporting characters have much to do other than smile, sing and dance, but in Faugno’s case the results are extraordinary, especially with his effortless footwork, which has snap, grace and dazzle.

Wilson’s music has a sweet, comfortable feel from another era. Some of the songs have become standards on their own: “Won’t You Charleston With Me,” “I Could Be Happy With You” and “It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love.” Other tunes are what songs were in those musical hall entertainments: merely delightful and disposable.

For the Goodspeed production, a song from the London original production dropped for Broadway, “Nicer in Nice,” is reinserted and neither adds nor detracts from things. It’s just one more number to amuse in this bonbon of a production, deliciously served.

The Boy Friend

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, Conn.; 398 seats; $60 top

Production: A Goodspeed Opera House presentation of a musical in two acts with book, music and lyrics by Sandy Wilson. Directed by Julie Andrews.

Crew: Choreography, John DeLuca. Musical direction, Michael O'Flaherty. Sets, Tony Walton; costumes, Walton, Rachel Navarro; lighting, Richard Pilbrow, Dawn Chiang; orchestrations, Dan DeLange; production stage manager, Donna Cooper Hilton. Opened, reviewed Aug. 3, 2005. Runs through Sept. 24. Running time: 2 HOURS, 5 MIN.

Cast: Hortense - Bethe Austin Nancy - Margot de la Barre Maisie - Andrea Chamberlain Fay - Krysta Rodriguez Dulcie - Kirsten Wyatt Polly - Jessica Grove Marcel - Jordan Cable Alphonse - Scott Barnhardt Pierre - Andrew Briedis Madame Dubonnet - Nancy Hess Bobby Van Husen - Rick Faugno Percival Browne - Paul Carlin Tony - Sean Palmer Phillipe - Eric Daniel Santagata Monica - Renee Pugh Lord Brockhurst - Drew Eshelman Lady Brockhurst - Darcy Pulliam Gendarme, Waiter - Tom Souhrada

More Scene

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. Co-hosted by Yalitza Aparicio, Henry Golding and Amandla Stenberg [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

  • Karl LagerfeldChanel Paris-Londres 2007/8 Show, London,

    Legendary Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85

    Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion icon – and iconoclast – who outfitted and photographed such stars as Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga, has died. He was 85. Lagerfeld died in Paris, fashion house Chanel said. Although his health had been failing, he kept working up to his death, issuing instructions regarding Fendi’s fall ready-to-wear collection, which [...]

  • Eric Wareheim, 'The Simpsons' E.P. Matt

    Beefsteak Gathers Comedy Bigwigs for Meat and Mayhem

    The masterminds behind Beefsteak, a debauched tribute to the meaty arts that raises thousands for the Los Angeles Food Bank, switch things up each year so that guests are never bored. Organized by comedy players including Eric Wareheim, “The Simpsons” executive producer Matt Selman, and ABC Studios VP of comedy Cort Cass with Redbird chef Neal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content