Saturday, May 21, 2016

reviews - ME AND MY GIRL - Hale Centre Theatre

Heidi-Liz Johnson and Vinny Chavez
Photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw/Hale Centre Theatre
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through July 2nd.

 "It took fifty years for the 1930s British musical Me and My Girl to make it to Broadway. ..was a smash hit, running for three years and winning three Tony Awards. While the score may not have any instantly recognizable songs, the book is fresh and funny with the comedy focusing on the division of the classes and evoking a fun Pygmalion-style transformation. Hale Centre Theatre's production is a smash, with exceptional direction and superb performances by Vinny Chavez and Heidi-Liz Johnson....Bill Snibson, an unrefined, simple, and brash Cockney man, discovers he is the long-lost 14th Earl of Hareford. However, in order to receive his large inheritance he needs to become a sophisticated gentleman...but he is also forced to choose between either fitting in or losing his girl, the unsophisticated fishmonger's assistant Sally Smith. ...While the show is a little rough in the beginning moments...once Bill enters the scene the fun and frivolity never stop....My only quibble with this production is that there are a few jokes with modern references thrown in and, while they get big laughs, they aren't quite in the style of the show which focuses on period jokes and references. Director and choreographer Cambrian James has found a gifted cast that adds freshness to this old-fashioned musical comedy. Vinny Chavez and Heidi-Lynn Johnson are superb as Bill and Sally....They sing and dance skillfully, They also instill their roles with a natural ease full of charm and grace that makes the audience immediately fall in love with them both and their unpretentious and simple ways. Chavez' natural comic timing and adlibbing abilities are excellent....Johnson's strong vocal chops elevate her ballad "Once You Lose Your Heart" into an incredibly simple yet moving long song, and she infuses the sassy Sally with enough vulnerability to make you care for her even more....James' direction infuses the whole production with a sense of enthusiasm and a fast pace but also keeps the comedy and situations fresh and frothy. His choreography is exceptional...Music director Elizabeth Spencer achieves splendid results with the large cast. Creative elements, as usual at Hale, are sublime. Brian Daily's set design is simple but works perfectly to evoke the various locations of the show. The costumes by Mary Atkinson are breathtaking..Jeff A. Davis' lighting is, as usual, exceptional and continually paints the stage in layers of color, shadow, and light. ...While Me and My Girl may be a simple fish out of water story, it is also a good old-fashioned musical comedy. With an exceptional cast and James' continued excellent work, Hale's production is utterly delightful."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...fraught with corny puns, ridiculous one-liners and visual gags that within minutes had the Hale audience eating out of its proverbial hand....regular bloke Bill Snibson (Vinny Chavez) discovers he is aristocracy, but is at risk of losing the title if he can't brush up his etiquette and lose his low class ties, namely his fishmonger best girl, Sally Smith (Heidi Liz Johnson). The show risks a fizzling implosion without a dynamic duo in the two title roles. Happily, the Hale couple sparked. ..Hale favorite Chavez as leading man made the role and the show. With Johnson literally and figuratively at his side, their polished team just didn't miss a comedic or rhythmic beat....Though the show's music was probably not immediately recognizable and will never top any charts, it was catchy. ....Charity Johansen's conniving Duchess Maria opposite Mark Kleinman's Sir John and Jacqueline Brecker's materialistic Lady Jacqueline paired with Jeff Deglow's Bolingbroke were mini-mirrors of couples who outwardly appeared at odds but were continually easy to laugh with or at because they had some unseen, reassuring solid connection to one another...With very little tension and whole lot of laughter, the show nestled into the crowd's heart with widespread goodwill. The escape to 1930s music and mindset of simple, sweet bygone eras at Hale's "Me and My Girl" was a refreshing pick-me-up. Like the sweet lyrics of Snibson's closing number "Leaning on a Lampost" suggest, a whole bevy of terrible outcomes are possible, but deep down we all know that regardless of outward appearances, in this context of romantic notions, the ending will be a happy one." - Jennifer Haaland, Examiner.com (click here to read the complete review)

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