The quintessential 1920s musical (give or take the odd mention of Edward VIII’s abdication in 1938!) is at the Pomegranate this week, in the capable and enthusiastic hands of Chesterfield’s leading musical theatre company.
Me and My Girl is Chesterfield Operatics’ spring production, and what a lot of fun they have with it.
Julie Metcalfe clearly enjoys being man-eater Lady Jacquie, and newcomer Heath Parkin unleashes his inner Hooray Henry as the H-hon Gerald Bolingbroke, the heir no longer apparent.
Sarah Morrell and Karl Brennan are frightfully upper-crust as the Duchess of Dene and Sir John Tremayne. And as Parchester, the never quite all-singing, all-dancing family solicitor, Andy Moore is in his element.
The chorus play lords and ladies, family retainers and rumbustious cockneys as required, and throw themselves heartily into every role, with several energetic dance numbers including a couple of snappy tap routines.
Of course, at the centre of Me and My Girl are Bill Snibson, the unexpected cockney earl who has to be educated in the ways of the aristocracy, and Sally, his warmhearted girl from down Lambeth way. Suzanne Higgins is a true leading lady, singing like a nightingale and taking Sally through a range of emotions. Robert Spencer is Bill to the manner born: cheeky, salt of the earth and witty with it; he teaches his posh relatives rhyming slang, and gets to reply to the enquiry ‘Do you like Kipling?’ with the immortal line ‘I don’t know, I’ve never kippled.’
Bill, Sally and their East End chums are far more fun than the buttoned-up upper crust – though the nobs aren’t above letting their hair down; the Lambeth Walk finale to Act One is rumbustious, uninhibited and pure enjoyment, right down to the spoons played by several of the cockneys.
Add in familiar songs like Leaning on a Lamppost and The Sun Has Got His Hat On, and a lively orchestra under the baton of Jonathan Francis, and the sum total is one of the best Operatics shows for a while. This is Chesterfield’s amateur music scene at the top of its game.
Me and My Girl continues its run at the Pomegranate until Saturday, May 3.