The second summer musical of Reagle Music Theater's 46th season is "Me and My Girl". The story is about Bill Snibsen, a cockney gent who learns that he is the 14th heir to the Earl of Hareford and must pass a test to inherit his new fortune. This unrefined cockney gent must choose between love and money with the mixture of cockney and nobility resulting in a "Downton Abby" type show with engaging song and dance. When he learns that he must also give up his streetwise girlfriend in order to be accepted by the gentry especially the prim and proper executors, Maria, the Duchess of Dene and Sir John Tremayne. Also figuring into the story are Lady Jacqueline, her beau, Gerald and the family solicitor, Herbert. Bill eventually brings a cockney invasion to the greater Hareford Hall, an estate peopled with the upper-crust of English society in this high spirited and witty musical. "Me and My Girl" had a successful original run in England in 1937 and became a huge Broadway hit in revival in 1986, nominated for 11 Tony Awards.Cynthia Thole director/choreographer cast topnotch performers in these roles and infuses them with high energy from start to finish. Musical director Dan Rodriguez taught the beautiful songs and conductor Jeff Leonard leads a 20 piece orchestra, winning all of them a standing ovation at their expertise in this musical about the triumph of love overcoming all obstacles especially rich snobs.
The impressive gorgeous two story set is by Richard Screiber and the terrific costumes are very Kansas City Costumes. Leading this huge cast is Joshua Holden as Bill Snibsen. His physical dexterity and humor is superb. His pratfalls, double takes and line delivery are spectacular. "The Lampeth Walk" stops the show with his brilliant rendition and he with the rest of the cast doing a marvelous high energy dance during it. Joshua also sings "Me and My Girl" and "Hold My Hand" with Sally, "You Would If You Could" with Jacqueline, and another show stopper "Leaning on a Lamp Post". His dexterity with a cape in the library scene and later in a drunken scene are incredible. His rubbery movements are reminiscent of Ray Bolger and his comic lines are true gems ala Laurel and Hardy. Gorgeous red head Jamie Buxton is terrific as the spunky fishmonger girlfriend who stands up to the uppity ways of the rich snobs to be with her one true love. She displays her voice in the two duets with Joshua and her two marvelous solos the poignant "Once You Lose Your Heart" and "Take It on the Chin". Her transformation ala Pygmalion near the end of the show is spectacular. She and Joshua have terrific chemistry with each other.
Other comic performers include Shonna Cirone and Devon Stone as Lady Jacqueline and Gerald Bolingbroke who is madly in love with her. Shonna displays her strong voice and sings "You Would if You Could" when she pursues Bill, trying to ensnare him to marry her tempting him with her voluptuousness. Tall, dark and handsome Devon and her two rousing numbers are "Thinking of No One But Me" and "The Sun Has Got It's Hat On". Devon's strong tenor voice soars off the charts in these numbers and he displays strong dancing skills in them ,too. Carole Healey is a hoot as the upper crust Grande Dame who runs roughshod over Bill until she finds her own true love, Sir John. She sings a rousing number "Song of Hereford" with Bill and the ancestors doing a tap dance, march and kick line during it. Joshua and Rishi Bashu as Sir John sing the comic "Love Makes the World Go Round" in a drunken stupor. "The Family Solicitor" and ""An English Gentlemen" are reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan ditties. They are both marvelously performed. Kudos to one and all who make this a spectacular musical extravaganza. So for a look back at the good old days, the more things change the more they stay the same. Be sure to catch this rollicking version of "Me and My Girl" before it dances its way out of town. It has been terrific reviewing musicals at Reagle these past ten years. The first one I reviewed here was "Grease" in July, 2004.