Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Gentle look at simpler times

THE BOYFRIEND: Opus Performing Arts Community

Noarlunga College Theatre, Ramsay Plc, Noarlunga Centre

Until October 11

Reviewed by Sue Oldknow


SANDY Wilson's The Boyfriend is a romanticised look at the by-gone age of ripping times and jolly good fun that was the Roaring Twenties.

The scanty script is an unashamed device to link together some very catchy ditties such as I Could Be Happy with You and It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love.

At a ladies' finishing school in the south of France, some terribly well-to-do English society girls have a lovely time being "such chums" and looking for that elusive but highly necessary accessory, "the boyfriend".

The production team of Janice Bailey (director), Fiona Bailey (choreographer) and Mark DeLaine (musical director) have come up with a pleasant night out with this quaintly comical musical romp.

Some of the production elements are disappointing. The sets are workmanlike but flimsy and uninspiring, the lighting is utilitarian and the sound unbalanced.

The principles have the luxury of headset microphones that mostly cope but result in thin and sibilant voices.

The choreography shows moments of great promise in numbers such as The Boyfriend and The Riviera but mostly wanders into slow, sparse repetitiveness that sometimes leaves the performers looking decidedly uncomfortable.

There are some very good performances.

Rachel Draheim is a standout as Maisie, combining a bright, energetic comedy performance with a rich singing voice.

Kirilie Blytheman makes a sweet-voiced heroine and Vanessa Eley is a gently elegant Madame Dubonnet.

The finishing school chums, Heather John, Jamie Hibbert and Eliza Bentley, provide a lot of the innocent humour and schoolgirl enthusiasm necessary to move the action along.

But the star of the show is the tight and tuneful orchestra. Some song cues could be anticipated a little quicker to avoid those pregnant pauses but the show will tighten as it progresses.

The music is excellent and ensures that a jolly decent toe-tapping time can be had by all.

The Boyfriend holds no surprises but it's a pleasant way to pass a wintry evening.

· Review published in the Southern Times Messenger, 8-10-03, p. 42.

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