The Boy Friend
Trinity Methodist Music and Drama
Trinity Methodist Church Hall, Chelmsford
Friday 27th September 2013
Sandy Wilson's 1953 musical comedy, The Boy Friend, is an affectionate pastiche of musicals of the roaring twenties and is set among the gaiety of the French Riviera. A group of "Perfect Young Ladies" at Mme Dubonnet's finishing school are consumed with desire to find that most necessary of accessories for a seventeen year old girl - a boyfriend - and the sweet, simple story follows the attempt of one young heiress to find true love.
This is a frivolous, feel-good show - the essence of which even the predictable plot line and weak book can do nothing to dispel - and this youthful Trinity cast brings a vitality and spirit to the stage. Polly Browne, set to inherit her father's fortune but wanting to find love regardless of money, is played with earnest sobriety and a sparklingly beautiful voice by Jessica Edom. Ben Huish gives delivery boy Tony a bumbling posh-boy interpretation, with a comic characterisation that would not be out of place in a P.G. Wodehouse novel and a smooth, confident singing voice.
Hands held at constant right angles, fluttering lashes over wide eyes and fixed smiles with shiny white teeth, the English roses of the finishing school are played with stylised elegance by Charlotte Watling, Helen Quigley, Amy Coster and Nina Harrington. Their enthusiastic Charleston-style choreography is well matched by the strong male support from Joe Gray, Dom Short, Dom Light and Ed Tunningley. All relevant parties spiritedly maintain their French accents, especially Emma Byatt who floats around the stage as a graceful Madame Dubonnet. An enjoyable cameo too from Director Tony Brett who exudes personality while playing lecherous Lord Brockhurst with a twinkle in his eye.
The set is nicely designed, although it may look more complete if the open space above the short side flats were covered. The hanging basket for Act 3, with its fixings suspended in mid air, is a little too dominant for such a central position, but the furniture and props are well chosen and the set changes are handled smoothly through the two intervals. The costumes and wigs are all excellent, chosen to ideally depict the period and suit each individual character. The busy three piece band are reliably led by Musical Director Gerald Hindes who pitches the volume levels ideally to ensure that the performers voices are always heard.
It is lovely to see a talented group of young faces joining the established performers at Trinity, and the result is a fun-filled production with the enthusiasm of the cast reflected by the appreciative audience. An entertaining evening.
Photograph by Val Scott.