City Center Encores! presents ME AND MY GIRL - New York City Article
City Center Encores! presents “Me and My Girl”
131 W 55th St., CityTix (212) 581-1212
Wednesday May 9 through Sunday May 13
Me and My Girl, which opened in London at the very end of 1937, was the last big hit of the British musical theater in the final seasons before the outbreak of WW2; then, 50 years later, it was a major hit all over again on both the West End and Broadway in the age of Thatcher and Reagan. Over the last 80 years, the show has been primarily a vehicle for a star comedian-singer-dancer, starting with the legendary Lupino Lane, then Robert Lindsay and Jim Dale in the 1980s, and now Christian Borle, who is clearly staking a claim for himself as the funniest man in the contemporary theatrical scene. Mr. Borle was hysterical in Encores’ Little Me and as a slyly subversive “Willie Wonka” in the recent (and under-appreciated) Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, but my guess is that here he will revive his mock-English accent from Something Rotten, in which he embodied the loopiest incarnation imaginable of William Shakespeare. He’s a natural fit for Me and My Girl, especially opposite Laura Michelle Kelly as the titular leading lady.
The other major reason to catch this production is the jaunty score by Noel Gay, which evokes a wide range of styles, from Gilbert and Sullivan to the other Noel of the era (Coward, that is), to the international dance hit “The Lambert Walk.” This was the only British song of the period to become a swing standard on both sides of the Atlantic, as recorded by Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt, and Benny Goodman, among many others. Spectacular as that is, my favorite song from the score is the more intimate George Formby standard, “Leaning on a Lamp.” Whether being romantic (as in “Hold My Hand”) or comic (“The Family Solicitor”), these Gay songs are imminently danceable (especially “The Sun Has Got His Hat On”), and director-choreographer Warren Carlyle will doubtless provide a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, not to mention the funnybone. “Oy!”
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)