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Reviews

BBC.co.uk

Posted 1st December 2006
Written by Katy Lewis

Panto doesn’t officially start in Milton Keynes until next week but the audience at Me and My Girl could be forgiven for thinking Christmas had come early as joke after joke, cornier than a bad foot, hurtled towards you!

But when they are delivered so well, this really doesn’t matter. I found that I just couldn’t help but laugh at this funny, sunny show that just oozes slickness and charm.

The plot, as ever, is predictable. Salt of the earth Cockney type Bill (Richard Frame) finds out that he is the next Earl of Hareford and his new found aunt, the Duchess of Dene tries to bring him up to scratch to move up a class. But, inevitably, although he must marry into his new class, she cannot part Bill from his one true love - Lambeth girl Sally Smith (Faye Tozer).

It sounds dated, and I guess it is and I couldn’t believe I was actually laughing out loud - but the fact is, the mark of adapter Stephen Fry runs right through it with some clever word play. The show maybe 70 years old and the jokes are old, but they’re not THAT old, they are just relentless!

They ranged from the obvious “Aperitif, sir” to which the answer was of course, “No thanks I’ve already got some” to the more subtle example of the Duchess saying “I always get myself a new hat when I’m down in the dumps” to which the response was “Oh – so that’s where you get them!" I'm still chuckling about that one!

The large cast of the show were excellent. It needs a strong lead as Bill Snibson, the unlikely heir who is the focus of the show, as the actor playing him needs everything - singing, dancing and spot on comedy acting. Richard Frame more than fits the bill with perfect timing and physical comedy much reminiscent of Lee Evans. The show revolves round him and he keeps it spinning.

Faye Tozer is a wonderfully feisty yet vulnerable love interest Sally, who is prepared to sacrifice their relationship for the sake of the man she loves. Her voice and acting skills also show that she has left the pop world far behind her and is fast becoming a star of the musical world.

Dillie Keane and Trevor Bannister as the Duchess and Sir John Tremayne showed their experience and comedy credentials to the full and Russell Walker as upper class buffoon Gerald was a real audience pleaser too.

The dancing was slick, the costumes fab and the whole set felt light and fresh. With uplifting songs such as "The Sun Has Got His Hat On", the "Lambeth Walk", "Leaning On A Lampost" and of course the title song, you can’t fail to leave the show smiling and humming, although doing both at the same time may make you look kind of crazy.

The final message may wrankle – do you have to change to win the man you love – but you just have to forget any kind of insight or study of the subtext and go with the flow.

Yes - the story may be dated and far-fetched, but this is a happy and uplifting night out that will put a smile on your face, give you a warm glow inside and delight a whole new generation of audience.

 

Whatsonstage.com

Posted 10th November 2006
Written by Tom Powell

With immediately recognisable hits such as ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On,’ ‘Me And My Girl,’ and of course the sensational ‘Lambeth Walk,’ this Oliver and Tony award winning musical has been entertaining audiences since its premiere at the London Victoria Theatre, 1937.

Happy and amusing, this family musical guides the audience through the tale of the delightful Cockney lad, Bill Snibson, who inherits the ownership of fictional ‘Hareford Hall,’ a large fortune and of course the title ‘Earl Of Hareford.’ Following his journey to becoming a perfect English gentlemen, this spectacular musical, adapted by Stephen Fry has its ups, its downs and of course a happy ending!

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Warren Carlyle (director and choreographer) has brought this sparkling show back on stage. Featuring an all star cast of Richard Frame, (Family Affairs) Trevor Bannister, (Are You Being Served?) Sylvester McCoy, (Dr Who) Dillie Keane and Pop sensation Faye Tozer, ‘Me And My Girl’ is touring the United Kingdom until December 16th 2006.

Although the use of a revolving set is unique, throughout the show the scenery is pretty basic and unimaginative. However, the acting from most of cast truly does make up for this. Sylvester McCoy, most famous for his role as the 7th ‘Doctor’ in BBC’s ‘Dr Who,’ is one of the most talented actors to hit the stage. His portrayal as the ‘Family Solicitor’ has the audience in stitches. His song is certainly a feel good classic and is sure to have you humming the tune as you leave the venue.

Faye Tozer, renowned for her global success in the Pop phenomenon that was ‘Steps’ also demonstrated immense talent. Playing the role of ‘Sally Smith,’ Bill’s common, Cockney girlfriend, Faye Tozer was delightful to watch. Keeping her cockney accent throughout the show, she was believable, energetic and had a wonderful voice to listen to.

Not to forget of course ‘Family Affairs’ star Richard Frame leading the show with his high energy, cheeky wit and his fantastic performance in the staring role of ‘Bill.’ In fact the only disappointment in the show was that of Alexs Owen Hobbs, whose acting proved to be wooden, unbelievable and not at all how a paying audience would expect it to be.

Apart from that, I really did struggle to find fault! The high factor to the show has to be put down to the fantastic performance in the Cockney classic ‘The Lambeth Walk,’ which never fails to get the audience singing along; making it virtually impossible for them to say a bad word about the show in the interval!

 

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