Theater's season to end on musical note

`Me and My Girl' to close 34th season at historic outdoor Annapolis setting

August 05, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre concludes its 34th season with "Me and My Girl," opening Saturday and running through Sept. 4.

Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber's happy musical premiered in London in 1937, cheering prewar British audiences. The story, accompanied by lively Noel Gay tunes, is of a poor Cockney boy, Bill Snibson, who finds he can inherit the title and estate of the Earl of Hereford by convincing snobbish executors of his suitability.

The aristocrats demand as a condition of wealth that he give up his uncouth girlfriend, Sally Smith. He refuses and is eventually accepted into high society, along with Sally, transformed into a regal lady.

The most famous tune from the show is "The Lambeth Walk," which became an international dance craze in the late 1930s and a symbol of London's fighting spirit during the blitz.

In 1939, "Me and My Girl" became the first musical to be televised, and then was turned into an MGM film starring Lupino Lane, the British music hall star who had originated the role in 1937.

"Me and My Girl" was revived by composer Gay's son Richard Armitage, who inherited his father's musical and management company. Classic Gay songs were added: "You Make The World Go Around," "Hold My Hand," and "Leaning on a Lamp Post." The London reincarnation opened in December 1984 in the West End, where it ran for eight years.

In 1986, the British show opened on Broadway. A surprise hit, it ran for 1,412 performances.

ASGT's cast features many local favorites. Song and dance man Joe Rose plays Bill Snibson, Andrea Hughes-Ostrowski is Sally Smith, and Lady Jacqueline is played by Andrea Elward, alternating with Phyllis Bilhuber. Julie Fox plays Pearly Queen, and Vince Musgrave plays Gerald Bolingbroke.

Director Bob Rude directs actors -- Elward, Hughes-Ostrowski, and Fox -- he first worked with 20 years ago, when they were members of Children's Theatre of Annapolis. The cast ranges in age from 14 to nearly 80.

Performances will begin at 8: 30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the historic outdoor theater at 143 Compromise St. Tickets are $10; $8 for students and seniors. Call 410-268-9212 for reservations.

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