Me and My Girl – Chichester Festival Theatre until 25th August
Review By Caroline Hanks-Farmer
A firm favourite of mine, I was delighted to hear that the summer show at Chichester this year is Me and My Girl. This star casting with many well-known Musical Theatre darlings is sure to be a hit.
Last seen in the West End in the late 1980’s, this book by L Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, which has been revised by Stephen Fry, tells the story of breeding and class division. Opening with the locating of the lost heir and then schooling of which, in order to take his rightful place, is the basic premise. Complete with pearly Kings and Queens, will Bill Snibson ever be ‘suitable” for society and whom will he marry? The parallels between My Fair Lady are referenced to and it is an unashamedly feel-good story, where love conquers all.
You’ve heard the old adage of “the show must go on” right? Well this was proven to be the case for the press night of Me and My Girl. Matt Lucas had been told he needed to rest his voice, (we wish Matt a speedy recovery) and so with just two hours of rehearsals Ryan Pidgen (pictured above) stepped into the role. And my goodness how brilliant was he?
It seemed like Pidgen was born to play this role and seized the opportunity with every ounce of his being. He oozed energy and whilst some of it must of course have been nerves, it didn’t show. He worked the stage and was full of fun, delivering his lines and acting his heart out along the way.
The rest of the cast you could feel were willing Pidgen on and the camaraderie really did come across. This was seen especially when they took their bows and Pidgen was pushed firmly to the front for a second time to receive his enormous round of applause.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson
Playing Bill’s Sally was Alex Young, who had the perfect blend of tenderness and adoration whilst being feisty. Her vocals were pitch perfect throughout. Caroline Quentin, known more to me for her television appearances, astounded with her singing ability and tap dancing skills. Her obvious enjoyment and game personality showed and it made the Duchess thoroughly entertaining.
Other mention worthy performances came from the ever captivating Clive Rowe, Siubhan Harrison and Dominic Marsh. However whenever Jennie Dale stepped into any scene as family solicitor Parchester it was then stolen by her. A nice nod to gender equality to. Her comic timing, her singing and dancing were all a joy to watch and I adored her performance.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson
This combined with innovative choreography by Alistair David, also modernised this show. Superb set design by Lez Brotherston made for interesting and engaging viewing. The show and cast thoroughly earned their full standing ovation. Musical Direction from Gareth Valentine of the Noel Gay score was superb. But then with a plethora of well-known songs such as Leaning On A Lamppost, The Sun Has Got His Hat On and The Lambeth Walk, there was always going to be much to enjoy.
Returning to the beginning, the night must belong to Ryan Pidgen – bravo for pulling such a demanding leading role off in such style at short notice.
Me and My Girl is on at Chichester Festival Theatre until 25th August, this really is a delightful revival of a classic show – next stop the West End? I think or rather I believe so!