Thursday, October 27, 2016

True Brit

Me and My Girl is a show that isn't too familiar to me, but the more I study it the more I become infatuated with it.  A jaunty British musical from the 30s, it's the tale of a self assured Cockney who finds out he's the heir to an earldom- and until he proves himself a gentleman the stuffy aristocrats he's sudden kin to will not legitimize his claim.  The music by Noel Gay is inspired by English Music Hall traditions, the comedy is screwball-meets-Downton Abbey, and I am delighted to be a part of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre production which goes into rehearsal soon. 

It truly is awesome to be making another regional theatre debut this season, but many of the artists I will be working with are colleagues from numerous shows--particularly director James Brennan!  This will be my fifth production with him, and my second this year.  As with Crazy For You, Jimmy starred in Me and My Girl on Broadway, and brings with him all the essence of the original along with his trademark finesse; it's always a pleasure to be directed by someone who knows a show inside and out.

This is also going to be my third British character this season, after Cogsworth in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Sir Robin in Spamalot. Herbert Parchester is the trusted family solicitor at the country estate of Hareford, and except when he is carried away by song, he is the very model of a buttoned up English gentleman.  When he finds himself taking a shine to Cockney Earl, Bill Snibson, he also starts peppering his speech with Cockney slang and doing the Lambeth Walk.

John Williams
It's such a fun part, and I am looking forward to crafting a lovable character in Parchester.  As always, when tossing ideas around, I am reminded of great character men of the past, and the elegant Hollywood actor John Williams immediately sprang to mind. You'll remember him as the wily detective in "Dial M For Murder" and Audrey Hepburn's chauffeur father in "Sabrina." Understated, bemused, Williams's performances always feel authentic because he was authentic-- always with a smart mustache and a neat suit, he's a great model for my family solicitor.

With Giselle Wolf in "The Long Christmas Dinner"

And in my own efforts toward authenticity in this English of English shows, I went to my dear friend Giselle for some coaching on my accent.  Giselle is a British trained actress who performed on the BBC and in the West End, a Londoner, and who has the highest standards--she lent her very critical ear, and has kept me sounding 'true Brit' as I learn my text! Giselle and I performed A Wilder Christmas together last season and became fast friends.

Me and My Girl opens at Maltz Jupiter Theatre on December 1 and runs until December 18. For more information and tickets visit the website.