Reading Operatic Society
My Fair Lady, 11th to 14th April 2018
0118 926 7135.
Review of The Boy Friend
26th to 30th September 2006.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
Better the second time around
Reading Operatic Society: The Boyfriend, at The Hexagon, from Tuesday, September 26 to Saturday, September 30
Seven years ago I reviewed Reading Operatic Society's The Boyfriend at the Hexagon, directed by the husband-and-wife team of Jill Morgan and John Lawes, so I returned for a second time with a feeling of déjà vu.
Amateur societies often repeat shows in a short space of time, usually for their box-office potential. The danger is that people will be cast in the same parts, so producing a clone of the original, but R.O.S. avoided that trap.
It is hard to believe that Sandy Wilson's charming '20s pastiche is now more than 50 years old. The script, written by the composer himself, still sparkles and the music captures the era well. There was a youthful feel to the first act as we were introduced to the Perfect Young Ladies, completing their education at Madame Dubonnet's Finishing School in Nice.
Tania Pratt, reprising her role as Polly Browne, impressed as always with her assurance on stage.
Among her schoolgirl 'chums', Emma Curtis was a delightful Dulcie, while Madcap Maisie was portrayed by the outstanding Jenni Simmonds, partnered by Harry Goff as her would-be beau, Bobby Van Husen. The latter couple had a rapport seen at its best in the dance number Won't You Charleston? as well as an amusing Carnival Tango in the ball scene.
In contrast, the older members of the company were led by the returning Maggie Preston and Keith Lawrence as Madame Dubonnet and her erstwhile lover Percival Browne. Their combination proved even more delicious this time around. Their scenes and songs together were a comedy masterclass, highlighted by the teasing You-don't-want-to-play-with-me blues number.
The other standout partnership was Lord and Lady Brockhurst, (Raymond Burton and Yvonne Maynard). He was the stereotypical upper-class 'dirty old man' in tweed jacket and plus-fours, at his comic best when trying to seduce Dulcie in It's Never Too Late To Fall In Love, while she was his dragon of a wife, desperately aiming to keep him in check. The audience loved it.
Company numbers such as The Riviera added colour and movement, accompanied by a tight orchestra conducted by Tony Wythe, doing a fine job with the baton as a last-minute replacement for the indisposed John Lawes.
On leaving the theatre, I was reminded of the Sondheim song I Never Do Anything Twice. Fortunately, on this occasion, Reading Operatic Society decided to ignore that advice and produced a show that was definitely better the second time around.
Singin' in the Rain, 27th to 30th September 2017
Legally Blonde, 19th to 22nd April 2017
Sister Act, 28th September to 1st October 2016
Children of Eden, 13th to 16th April 2016
Hairspray, 23rd to 26th September 2015
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, 22nd to 25th April 2015
Oliver!, 24th to 27th September 2014
The Wedding Singer, 2nd to 5th April 2014
Grease, 25th to 28th September 2013
Footloose, 10th to 13th April 2013
West Side Story, 26th to 29th September 2012
All Shook Up, 20th to 24th September 2011
Disco Inferno, 14th to 18th September 2010
Pajama Game, 22nd to 26th September 2009
Die Fledermaus, 23rd to 27th September 2008
HMS Pinafore, 19th to 23rd February, 7:30
Oklahoma! 25th to 29th September 2007
The Mikado, 20th to 24th February 2007
The Boy Friend, 26th to 30th September 2006
The Pirates of Penzance, 7th to 11th March 2006
The Gondoliers, 27th September to 1st October 2005
Carousel, 1st to 5th March 2005 (review).
The Merry Widow 28th September to 2nd October 2004 (reviews).