Sunnybank Theatre Group’s production of Sandy Wilson’s musical The Boyfriend is in general a sparkling production, from the Christmas lights that surround the proscenium arch to the atmospheric stage lighting and outstanding costumes. Rarely have I seen an amateur musical production that is so well dressed. The singing too is of a very high standard, with strong voices from male and female with excellent and sustained harmonies. Musical director Joan Ellis is to be congratulated on the disciplined performance of the actors.
The Sunnybank stage is not large and it was always going to be a problem getting the huge cast of the play on stage. But with some tight choreography from Hal Marsden and the omission of a singing and dancing chorus, the problem has been overcome, even with a finale and 17 people on stage. However the production does come across more as a review than a musical play. Where the singing is done with panache, the pace drops significantly when the “talking” begins.
The storyline of the play is a flimsy excuse for a lot of song and dance routines, with a minimum of characterisation in the acting roles. Five girls and five boys find each other, Polly Brown the pretty, poor little rich girl heroine has no-one, so she dates delivery boy Tony (Steve Norris) who turns out to be from the British aristocracy, so all’s well that ends well.
The boys and girls (Jacquie McKell, Sara Reynolds, Sarah McQuade, Allison Robertson, Nikki Bryn-Holland, Ashley Worsman, Stewart Sephton, Brad Kendrick, Matthew Dunning and Matthew Broadhurst) give spirited performances and while not the most graceful of dancers, are diction- and note-perfect in the delivery of the songs. The girls attend Madame Dubonnet’s academy in France, which gives rise to the comedy, with Madam very nicely played by Marion Scrivens, complete with excellent and sustained French accent and a lot of energy.
Her love interest is Percival Brown (Wayne Mulley) the pompous millionaire father of Polly, a man from her past. One of the funniest portrayals of the night is Ken Verrall as the aging romeo Lord Broadhurst, and the strongest acting performance come from Deirdre Robinson as his wife. She is the most believable character on stage. So too is Trish Willing as the maid Hortense. Polly Brown was played by Greer Oliver and looked the part, until she had to do a tap dance number, which she scowled through.
Creating a stage musical is never an easy task and Anne Ross, in her first foray as director, has done an excellent job.
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