J. A. Di Bello’s Review of Me and My Girl

July 2, 2019

Forestburgh Playhouse

Forestburgh

     With so many musicals and theatres under the belt, there’s one concept a writer gets to know instinctively. It’s: “Is everybody happy?” The fun is in the air. It’s contagious and intensified at final curtain. The issue here is simplified a tad, but the basic elements are constant and firm. And Franklin Trapp’s current revival of Me and My Girl, subtitled A Tap Dance Love Story is a firm indication that he knows how to create good theatre that overspills with theatrical happiness and fun for a nearly full-house opening night at the Forestburgh Playhouse.

Want good theatre? Start with an experienced piece of good-time musical theatre from Broadway/West End. Years? Say 1935 through 1960 or so, include a show that parades an abundance of dance, preferably tap, a clichéd, predictable love story, and opportunities for vocalists to show their stuff. Assemble an exceptional group of actors. Then fine-tune: tweak the storyline, a little here, and pinch a little there.

Then it’s “lock and load,” meaning a diligent series of artistic tasks, rehearsals, directorial direction and from the bottom up, an all-hands effort. The result is what happened at Forestburgh Playhouse on the opening night of Me and My Girl: an enthusiastic, jubilant reception from a happy, fun-loving house.

The two stellar performers in this thrilling revival of a West End (1937) and Broadway (1986) show are Chris Duir as Bill Snibson, a young lower class Londoner on the verge of becoming heir to the fortune of a stuffy family of self-important aristocrats, the Harefords. The initial complication is Bill is an ill-respected Cockney from the looked-down-upon neighborhood of Lambeth, London’s East End. His language is the well-known and theatrically emphasized Cockney Rhyming Slang. 

 

E  Example: “Cockney phrases are fun and unique because they rhyme. Here's how they did it. First, you find a word you want to emulate. Let's say you want to talk about someone's wife with your friends. The phrase "trouble and strife" rhymes with "wife." So, a cockney might say something like: Watch out, Fred's trouble and strife is stomping down the street.”

With humor or not, Bill is thought to be unworthy of the Hareford family and its cherished fortune. His true love, our second star, however, is the “My Girl,” of the show. As Sally Smith, Brittany Rose Hammond is a charmer, but socially Sally is equally flawed, surviving as a savvy Cockney lass. Sally’s character is brought to the Forestburgh stage in a full-flurryed gale by a credible actor and vocalist Ms. Hammond. She will assume the challenge of moving to the top of the hill!

Rounding out the actors with equally astounding and an enthusiastic performance is returning ResCo member Jordan O’Brian as Lady Jacqueline Carstone. Jordan is a full-time, credible rival to Sally Smith as she intensifies her efforts to surpass Bill’s resistance. Also deserving those treasured leaves of laurel are John Little as a Sir John Tremayne and a dazing Kathryn Kendall as Maria, Dutchess of Dene (Brava).

Other members of this cast are Forestburgh’s reliable favorites Steve Davis and Harold Tighe. These two men share their theatrical talents in various and neighboring theatres. Harold , aside from acting at Forestburgh during the last 23 years is Vice President of the award winning Sullivan County Dramatic Society and will be directing Savannah Sipping Society at the Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburgh in September https://www.scdw.net/

In the spring Steve Davis, as a director, received applause in this publication from Robert H. Score in his review of the Muddy Waters Player’s production of Getting Away with Murder at the Playhouse in Museum Village. It was, “a fun and rowdy production that keeps the audience entertained and engaged from its booming beginning until its literally explosive ending,” stated Score.

A nearly sold-out opening night is a delight for producers as well as audiences. It presents a venue for “happiness” and lets people know that Me and My Girl, as A Tap-Dance Romance will continue its run at the Miracle of the Forest through July 14 and for this writer’s followers it a “Must-See.” Everyone needs a chuckle and a smile. Tickets and additional info are available at the box office or one line: https://www.fbplayhouse.org/

P.S. The cabaret show in the tavern is entitled “Just Judy: The Songs of Judy Garland.” Its intention to recognize the 50th anniversary of her passing. This show more than just succeeds; it’s a memorable tribute to one of our brightest stars. Reservation recommended; call the box office 845-794-1194.

    

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