Oi! Oi! Last week the toffs and pearly kings and queens invaded Cupar’s Corn Exchange in their search for the long-lost Earl of Hareford. That, briefly, was the plot for the stage musical “Me And My Girl”, this year’s show production by Cupar Amateur Musical Society.
This musical, with music by Noel Gay, is set in the late 1930s and the show’s book, given a modern revision by Stephen Fry with Mike Ockrent in the 1980s, gives this production a modern and up-to-date feeling.
It also contains many well known and well loved musical numbers and, from the moment Kate Doig’s super little orchestra started playing the show’s overture containing “The Lambeth Walk”, every single member of the audience was toe-tapping along to its musical beat!
This was a light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, fun-loving production and, as the show opens, London Society is on their way for a weekend stay with the Harefords, a family of haughty aristocrats seeking the legitimate heir to the title of Earl of Hareford.
When this heir is eventually found, he turns out to be an unrefined Cockney gentleman, bringing total chaos to the well organised and orderly lives of the Hareford upper class with his actions and manners! Add to that situation, the toffs wish him married to one of their own. He, on the other hand has a Cockney girl friend . . . and so the scene was set for musical comedy mayhem!
The society is very fortunate to have a leading man in the calibre of Andrew Doig, the perfect choice for the role of Cockney Bill Snibson aka the Earl of Hareford.
This was a typical ‘Jack the lad’ role and, with his boyish charm, his incredible stage experience, and excellent Cockney accent, Andrew sallied forth with perfect ease in a role that suited him down to the ground – a role that was physically demanding as he sang, danced, capered about in madcap situations, plus his many costume changes! In his “Leaning On a Lamppost”, one felt the audience was wanting to join in and sing along with him!
His “girl” of the show’s title is his Cockney girlfriend, one Sally Smith. And appearing in this larger than life role was Helen Knowles giving us an entertaining and refreshing performance as the girl who is “not welcome” at the Big House because of her common background.
Helen found the perfect pathos to put over her “Once You Lose Your Heart” song in great style. And both Andrew and she bounced their comic lines off each other with the greatest of ease – especially when Sally was given a history lesson by Bill on the Hareford ancestors!
When Sally discovers she’s not invited to a posh party given in Bill’s honour, she gatecrashes the event with her Lambeth friends – the Pearly Kings and Queens – and this leads the entire company into the famed “Lambeth Walk” (choreographed by Lorna Lewis), which proved to be an frenetic and exciting part of the evening’s proceedings, made even better when the enthusiastic company and dancers overflowed into the audience with their boisterous routine.
Attempting to educate Bill’s rough Cockney ways into the manners of the aristocracy was the formidable Hareford matriarch, the proud Maria, Duchess of Dene, played with snobbish delight by Ruth Anderson. Among the madcap toffs, one family member had a soft spot for both Bill and Sally. Eric Towns was first class as the elderly and worldly-wise Sir John Tremayne, always with a twinkle in his eye, attempting to bring the Cockney pair together and ensuring, with the aid of a certain well known speech professor for Sally, a happy ending all round . . . even if it took a few stiff whiskies along the way as well!
Scott Melvin should be very pleased with his first production for the Society, and solved the production problems with ease – best seen in the show’s difficult opening with London society driving to Hareford in a posh car. There was no car in sight, but the auditorium became the grounds of Hareford Hall, and the Guests simply “parked outside” and entered in excitedly chatter to spend their weekend in song to open the show. Brilliant! Oi! Oi!