Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Me and My Girl
The Maltz, under the artistic direction of the brilliant Andrew Kato, has steadily raised its profile by presenting top-notch productions of musicals as well as dramas and comedies. Everything has been first rate and, thanks to the multitudinous benefactors, they also boast the highest production budgets in our region. That said, nothing prepared me for the absolute joy of this show. I had seen it, originally, on Broadway, starring the brilliant Robert Lindsay and a not so brilliant, charisma-free, leading lady. I was eager to see what director James Brennan hath wrought to our premier Jupiter stage.
The story is a delightful one: Cockney Bill Snibson is the result of a short fling of the term marriage of the 13th Earl of Hereford. He is brought to the manor and informed of his good fortune; his title as well as his 100,000 pounds per year. Urged to marry by the executors Duchess Maria and Sir John Tremayne, he is open to their suggestion since he and "his girl" Sally are madly in love. The Duchess informs him that he must marry someone with "royal blue blood" and has just the lady for him, the supremely conniving Lady Jacqueline Carstone, who wants the title ... and his money.
Without giving away any of the numerous plot twists, suffice to say that all turns out wonderfully for all concerned. Everyone winds up partnering with whom the audience wants them to though I, for one, was wishing they wouldn't so we could stay in our seats for another hour or two.
Helen Gregory leads a 10-piece orchestra in the delightful Noel Gay music (L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber are responsible for the book and lyrics). As always, the musicians and performers, thanks to the brilliant sound work of Marty Mets, seem totally unmiked and one hears every word and every note from the pit. The sets, by Paul Tate dePoo III, are wonderfully evocative of the era and Gail Baldoni's costumes are perfection. Add to the production mix superb lighting by Cory Pattak and one has a show equal to anything on Broadway.
Under Mr. Brennan's direction, the cast, well, there are no superlatives to describe the talent on that stage. Heading the show is Matt Loehr as Snibson. He has won three Carbonell awards (Florida's Tonys) for productions he has led at the Maltz, and Messrs. Kato and Brennan were spot on to have him lead the show. Just watch his physical comedy which, in lesser hands could have gotten tiresome, but in Mr. Loehr's, one just asks for "yes, more, please." The charm, the smile, the singing and dancing, the indefinable charisma are all present in a performance that will be very hard to beat at awards time. As his leading "girl," the sublime Julie Kleiner gives it her all and more. A lovely looking young woman, Kleiner is a the proverbial triple threat and she is a joy to watch and listen to. Broadway's Mary Stout is both haughty and heartwarming as the Duchess and John Treacy Egan, as the man who has loved her in silence for over 30 years, is easily her equal. Gannon McHale, a wonderful character actor, is a riot as Sir Jasper Tring, who manages riotous moments with an "ear horn." Special mention for gorgeous Lauren Blackman as the scheming, fortune-hunter, Jacqueline. Tall, wonderful singer and dancer, she will be making her Broadway debut this season and New York will be lucky to have her.
The songs and dance? Dan Knechtges has choreographed showstopper after showstopper. The act one finale, "The Lambeth Walk," brings the house down. Loehr's "Leaning on a Lamppost" is a lovely change of pace from his earlier freneticism and Kleiner's "Once You Lose Your Heart" will have you in tears.
This is a show your kids and parents will love. It never condescends to the audience, is plays straight, which only enhances its inherent charm, and you will be enchanted. I cannot wait to attend again. Oh, by the way, did I mention I loved it?
Me and My Girl runs through December 18th, 2016, at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, 1001 Indiantown Road, Jupiter, FL. 33477. For tickets, please call 561-575-2672, or view online at www.jupitertheatre.org.