‘Me and My Girl’ Sparkles at Reagle (5 Stars)

‘Me and My Girl’ – Book and Lyrics by L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber; Music by Noel Gay; Direction and Recreation of Original Choreography by Cynthia Thole; Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez. At the Reagle Music Theatre, 617 Lexington Street, Waltham, MA through July 20th.

“You can take the man away from Lambeth, but you better take his girlfriend too!”

You won’t get a more affordable seat at a Broadway-quality show than at Reagle Music Theatre’s, “Me and My Girl”. Don’t let the location fool you, Waltham may be just a few minutes up Route 2, but their Equity-sprinkled cast could rival the Boston Opera House’s traveling Phantom stars, (and the parking is free!)

The show introduces the English elite in a somewhat ambiguous time setting of the 1930s era. We first see a young couple with nothing better to do than scheme about how to keep their riches: a Lord with an ear trumpet: a stern Duchess struggling to maintain control over absolutely everything; the family lawyer who spends far more time lounging than lawyering; and other assorted elements of the lives of the well-to-do. They find themselves in need of an heir to take over the office of “Earl’, otherwise their family money and estate will run out. The family somehow locates a long-lost relative named Bill Snibson, whom they pluck from the Cockney streets of Lambeth, and the family is completely repulsed by his accent, quick wittedness, and addiction to pick-pocketing.

The problem with this ‘heir’, is that not only would the family have to train him a la My Fair Lady, but he also has to drop his fish mongering girlfriend. This is a demand that Bill refuses outright, despite the riches and responsibility he is being offered. Maria, the Duchess of Dene, (Carole Healey) vows to separate the two lovers and make Bill into the perfect Earl, and her patience coupled with an intolerance of Bill’s poor habits make for a very convincing argument that she can do just that. While we can only assume this musical will have a happy ending, the Duchess is determined that her greedy daughter Jaqueline will be the one who marries Bill because, “love is for the middle class”.

Our star, (played by the wonderfully charismatic acrobat Joshua Holden) is a not unlike a rough-and-tumble Dick Van Dyke. There was never a dull moment, nor an eye peeled from his sideshow antics, no matter which character was speaking or singing beside him. His “Girl” Sally Smith, (Jamie Buxton) is the perfect vision of sweetness, kindness, and beauty combined with a little roughness around the edges.The powerful vocals of Lady Jaqueline (Shonna Cirone) will certainly be enough to keep you around past the first few scenes in order to hear everyone else chime in. The dance numbers (especially the tap dancing) will make you yearn for the days of Gene Kelly on the silver screen. The ensemble will also have you whooping and hollering for more, and the perfectly pitched vocals and choreography tricks will make you fearful of blinking.

The quality of the music and hilarity of the writing make me wonder how this show has yet to make it to the high school circuit along with Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, and Music Man. Perhaps this revival will inspire you to want to see it again and again, and have our younger generations perform it as well. Don’t miss Me and My Girl if you’re a Broadway fan, a live show fan, or even if you just love to laugh. (A few innuendos and “grabbing” incidences. Maybe leave the kids under 12 at home. For more info, go to: http://www.reaglemusictheatre.com/upcoming.html#MAMG