Center Stage: Broadway Palm Launches Season
The Broadway Palm Dinner Theater launched the 2012 Season with their 139th production of “For Me and My Girl” the very same show that opened this dinner theater back in 1993. This Tony Award winning musical was first presented in 1937 with original book and lyrics by L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, music by Noel Gay, book revised by Stephen Fry, plus contributions to revisions by Mike Ockrent; these last two writers have updated this charming show by adding a huge dash of terrible and terribly funny puns, plus a dollop of modern smarts to what already was there, a brilliant set of songs. The story is pure musical theater with lots of flash and dash. The plot centers about an East End, cockney ne’r-do-well, Bill Snibson (talented, song and dance man Vince Wingerter) finds out he’s the unlikely heir to the Earl of Hareford. In order to inherit this aristocratic fortune he must prove himself to be “fit and proper”, learn posh manners in order to please his fancy relatives, who want to make him into a proper lord and encourage him to dump his one and only true love, Sally Smith (the winning Ms. Jennifer Weingarten; Mrs. Vince Wingerter in real life). So, will love conquer all? Come on down and find out for yourself, by attending this happy-go-lucky show!
The sheer joyfulness of this show is less a tribute to the quality of the material, which is both charming and fluffy; it is more of a compliment to the brilliant Staging, Direction and Choreography by Ann Neiman, a totally creative, inventive, professional.
Vince Wingerter is outstanding as Bill Smibson going from a cheeky, boorish barrel boy, to charming, winning, young man about town who still has a firm grip on his values and unwilling to give up his girl, Sally. His portrayal is well grounded is true English music hall tradition, broadly comic, powerfully sung , nimble footed at both tap and expressionist dance, all while being fully aware of the audience. Most memorable was Wingerter’s bit with in the ermine robe, it was hilarious.
Jennifer Weingarten’s Sally is marvelous to watch she’s saucy one moment, turning on a dime she can be fiercely strong in the next, without missing a beat. Her key songs “Take It On the Chin” and “Once You Lose Your Heart” were delivered with spunk, sass and appeal, you can’t ask for much more than that.
Perky Elizabeth Flanagan as Lady Jaqueline Carsotne almost stole the show several times as a flirtatious, gold digger who just can’t resist a good sized fortune. Flanagan is very sexy, very funny, as she dances up a storm with elegance and ease, while sounding like a dream.
Regina Harbour’s Duchess of Dene and Paul Crane as Sir John Tremayneu (complete with ear trumpet) are first rate and great fun as the at first stern and snobby hoi poloi, while still giving a bit of tongue in cheek humor to defending the aristocratic traditions. John Keating fops around in high style as Gerald Bolingbroke the fella who fallen for Lady Jaqueline (our blonde, gold digger, vamp).
Jeff Duncan as the family’s solicitor, Cedric Parchester goes to prove once again there are no small parts in the theater. His high camp version of this amusing, blustery character is a total joy to behold. The rest of the ensemble cast did superbly too, whether playing toffs in tails, pearly music hall song and dance kings, and a vast range of minor roles giving it their all, while still serving Ann Neiman’s Choreography and Staging extremely well. As a matter of fact, in retrospect, it is this inventive, gifted Director/ Choreographer, that is the real star of this wonderful show; every bit of timing, joke, comic take, staging, cross over has been attended to and worked on, getting every laugh that’s embedded in these little gems. Neiman has mined every bit of amusement, presenting it us, the happily entertained audience.
“For Me and My Girl” was a smash hit back in 1993 when this show launched the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater and I happily report that it is every bit as good now as it was then. So if you want to kick off the 2012 in high spirits make your reservation today to see and enjoy the 139th production of “Me and My Girl” by phoning the Box Office at 278-4422 the show closes Feb.11, and tickets will be going fast for this deliciously enjoyable musical comedy. When you phone remind ’em Marsha sent you, and by the way have a healthy, happy New Year!
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