It’s the oldest story in the book: boy meets boy in 1930s England, the guy he’s jilted at the altar meddles in their relationship, confusion ensues, he ends up stripping in a Parisian nightclub before being reunited with his love for a show-stopping wedding.
Gene David Kirk’s production of Bill Solly and Donald Ward’s hugely fun 1975 comedy musical – the show’s UK premiere and Kirk’s swansong as Jermyn Street’s artistic director – smuggles in a brilliant alternative history of marriage via old-fashioned high jinks and some catchy songs.
Stephen Ashfield (in ‘The Book of Mormon’ next) and Craig Fletcher are in fine voice, and touching as American hack Casey O’Brien and the gawky aristocrat he falls for, Guy ‘English’ Rose. A hilarious Ben Kavanagh chews up the scenery and most of the stage as Guy’s ex, the deliciously droll Clarence Cutler.
Cheeky without being sleazy – quite a feat in a show featuring a rousing tribute to the Boy Scout movement – the show’s laugh-out-loud lyrics and sweeping orchestration are accompanied by a wink to the audience that steers clear of high camp. Unashamedly heart-warming, this is, refreshingly, ‘gay’ in more than one way.
The identity confusion that drives the plot is patently ludicrous, and the show’s broad tone won’t be for everyone. But buoyed along by Lee Proud’s exceptional choreography in such a small space (including a great slow-build ensemble tap number) and performed with gusto, its frothiness is joyous.
First published by Time Out