A Post-Halloween Sweetener at 42nd Street Moon: ‘The Boy Friend’ (Review)

Rarely do we have such a reliable witness who wears the fact she's been around the block a time or two with such discrete flair.

Nathaniel Rothrock and Jennifer Mitchell star in 42nd Street Moon's production of THE BOY FRIEND, playing October 29 - November 16 at The Eureka Theatre.
In Review

The Boy Friend

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars - 'Sweet Stuff'
42nd Street Moon
Stage direction and choreography - Cindy Goldfield
Book, Music & Lyrics by Sandy Wilson
42ndstmoon.org
Review by
Nathaniel Rothrock and Jennifer Mitchell star in 42nd Street Moon's production of THE BOY FRIEND, playing October 29 - November 16 at The Eureka Theatre.
Nathaniel Rothrock and Jennifer Mitchell star in 42nd Street Moon’s production of ‘The Boy Friend’, playing October 29 – November 16 at The Eureka Theatre.

The uniformly magnificent cast of 42nd Street Moon’s new production of The Boy Friend makes this play such a delicious spoof that you’ll get over that nonsense in the back of your head that you really don’t need to see another play with simpering coquettes and 20’s flappers. Even if the voices in your head aren’t making those kind of sounds, you might want a step-down transformer to divert you from gorging on leftover Halloween candy – in which case, “The Boy Friend” provides an easy step away from all that sugar without the jarring sobriety of  Monday morning.

Regardless how you make it to the Eureka Theatre, you’ll quickly appreciate that jarring sobriety is the last thing on the menu because the very unreality of The Boy Friend is what makes the show. 1954 New York Times reviewer Brooks Atkinson recognized this when he raved about a 22 year old Julie Andrew, as Polly Brown who “burlesques the insipidity of this part.” Not only must the actress be able to “breath lunatic sincerity” (as Walter Kerr put it), but that lunatic sincerity has to be strong enough to balance simpering coquette energy of those attending Mme. Dubonnet’s finishing school. If Jennifer Mitchell’s Polly Brown didn’t deliver all these things, it’s because, in part, that she was putting her own stamp on this role – one that magically allowed her to blend in with the simpering coquettes while remaining singularly apart.

The evening’s surprises didn’t end there those. Stephanie Prentice was pulled in at the very last moment to play Madame Dubonnet, which she did with such certainty and panache, were it not for a last-minute program note, no one in the audience would be the wiser. Prentice’s Dubonnet is the only real adult among these characters. Rarely do we have such a reliable witness who wears the fact she’s been around the block a time or two with such discrete flair.

Melissa Reinertson, Jennifer Mitchell, and Andrea St. Clair kick up their heels.
Melissa Reinertson, Jennifer Mitchell, and Andrea St. Clair kick up their heels.

Like many of the lesser characters, Mark Farrell’s Lord Brockhurst was so cleanly executed that that he’ll be living in your head days later, like a joke that keeps making you smile.

Cindy Goldfield’s artful blocking and choreography made the tiny Eureka stage double in size. 42nd Street Moon consistently excels at high-energy dance numbers, and Goldfield’s contributions raised this bar higher. Music director Dave Dobrusky on-stage piano just sweetened the mix.

 The Boy Friend runs from October 29 to November 16. It’ll lighten your load as we head into winter.

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Cy Ashley Webb
Cy spent the ‘80’s as a bench scientist, the tech boom doing intellectual property law, and the first decade of the millennium, aspiring to be the world’s oldest grad student at Stanford where she is interested in political martyrdom. Presently, she enjoys writing for Stark Insider and the SF Examiner, hanging out at Palo Alto Children's Theatre, and participating in various political activities. Democracy is not a spectator sport! Cy is a SFBATCC member.