Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
Noel Gay’s “ME AND MY GIRL” may be dated and certainly not the most (With some exceptions) musically memorable. But given its creative re-writing; imaginative directing and extremely talented cast- this is sure-fire entertainment. The SHAW Festival’s rendering, given the somewhat popular premise, has made a unique take on the story seem almost contemporary. Granted, British snobbery and rigid caste systems are supposedly passé; wealth and prestige still resonates with us unwashed masses. The concept of a lower class individual wanting or having to elevate levels is nothing new. G.B.S. incorporated it in his Pygmalion, and NATURALLY the original Pygmalion utilizes the idea.
Photo by David Cooper
Al Capp had the iconic episode about one of his Dogpatch characters- ’Hairless Joe’ becoming the Duke of Jough. Damon Runyon wrote about “A Lady for a Day” scrounger who is made over by her cohorts into a sophisticate when her estranged daughter comes to N.Y.C. And of course, SHAW’s own ‘The President’ wherein a mentor has to turn his charge’s uncouth fiancée into an acceptable suitor – all within the 90-minute stage time! In the ‘Me & My Gal’ iteration, a working class Londoner learns that he’s heir to a lordship and all the wealth (& relatives) that accompany same. But he can’t bring his devoted girlfriend up the social escalator.
To contemporize ‘M&MG’, director Ashlie Corcoran has staged the Stephen Fry rendition with a view to humor that even incorporates pratfalls, but it’s those super chorus numbers (including the lead performers) that make this such a charming and enjoyable presentation. Their tap dance numbers are incredibly intricate and perfectly synchronized. Coupled with the 13-piece orchestra under Paul Sportelli that never overpowers the on-stage dialogue, every musical number just sings (pun intended).
The play is a showcase for Michael Therriault. The man is a quintuple threat… he’s an instinctive comedian; an acrobat; he dances & sings – plus is definitively a consummate actor. On stage constantly as the young heir, he and his love interest – Kristi Frank own the show from downbeat to final curtain. Actually, they receive joyous applause as soon as the audience realizes there’s going to be a happy ending. We overheard a couple from Orchard Park N.Y. state that Therriault “seems to be the embodiment of his character”. Even a publicity hack couldn’t come up with such an accolade.
Strong support is contributed by Neil Barclays’ butler, Ric Reid gives his ‘Tremayne’ pizazz and Sharry Flett as usual steals every scene she’s in. Donna Belleville’s ‘Lady Clara’ stereotypes a delightful gold-digger blonde to a “T”. Jay Turvey’s family -lawyer bits glean giggles even in reprise.
The non-sequiturs; malapropisms and theatrical in-jokes that abound in Act II make the show’s progress seem to fly by. Pace and on-stage activity never lessens. Neither does audience attention. Quotables such as “Put the Rolls in the garage, I’ll butter them later” or Terriault’s reference to his ‘tinkler’ are sure to be added to many audience member’s lexicons.
We’ve been talking about this year’s Shaw ‘Saint Joan’ being a sure thing for O.A.R.’s Top Ten list. Looks like another ‘tie’ situation with “Me and my Girl” sharing the prize. Michael, Sally and company will be at The Festival Theatre until October 15th.