There is little that can make me happier than a good old-fashioned musical. 42nd Street Moon’s production of Me and My Girl is just that, a delightful romp through 1930s England with loveable characters and peppered with fun songs.
The show follows the story of East-End man, Bill Snibson (Keith Pinto), who finds out that he next in line to become the Earl of Hareford. He is now rich and forced to adopt the mannerisms of the upper class, but Bill really just wants to marry Sally (Melissa WolfKlain), “his girl” from his old life. Chock full of energetic musical numbers and social commentary on the British class system, Me and My Girl is a charming musical of yesteryear that has aged like a fine wine, growing better and more complex with time.
Despite the silly premise, the show deals with age-old questions that affect us today as much as they affect the characters in 1936. The musical deals with the timeless debates of nature vs. nurture and blood vs. breeding. What is more important, what we are born with in our blood or what we grow up learning and believing? It also addresses the question we all face at some point, where do we really belong? These questions have only become more complex since the script was written. Me and My Girl’s surprisingly thoughtful take on these questions is beautifully folded into the jolly songs and energetic dance numbers.
The core cast members are great. Pinto and WolfKlain sing and tap their hearts out and their chemistry on stage is undeniable. They stay true to their characters’ working-class roots with charm and sincerity even as their accents and circumstances change. Much of the show’s comedy and heart comes from these two characters trying to stay true to their love when everything seems determined to tear them apart. It’s crucial to the show that their love feels real and these two pull it off wonderfully.
The actors playing the older couple are also spot-on. Milissa Carey plays Maria, the Duchess of Dene with an iron will that endears the character to the audience, even when you don’t like her decisions. Michael Patrick Gaffney plays her love interest, Sir John Tremayne who goes from Bill’s main antagonist to his biggest cheerleader over the course of the play. Gaffney handles this change with remarkable delicacy, which makes the character’s change of heart seem natural and inevitable despite the fact that it doesn’t make much sense in hindsight.
A few of the cast members’ accents can be a bit touch-and-go at times. Particularly in the beginning, some of the mid-level characters didn’t stick to their accents perfectly, but by the end of the show, the problem seemed to resolve itself. The production chose to stick with simple set and costume designs that allow the actors to create the musical’s topsy-turvy shenanigans. All of this adds up to an absolutely delightful production.
It’s really a shame that Me and My Girl is not a show that gets produced very often. It’s fun, fanciful and heartfelt in perfect proportions. 42ndStreet Moon’s production is well acted and produced and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a few hours of good old-fashioned fun.
42nd Street Moon’s production of Me and My Girl is playing at The Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco, now through May 20, 2018. The show runs approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes with one intermission. Tickets range $25-$75.
Photos courtesy of Ben Krantz Studio