Won't You Charleston? Goodspeed's Boy Friend, Directed by Julie Andrews, Opens

News   Won't You Charleston? Goodspeed's Boy Friend, Directed by Julie Andrews, Opens That happy music you hear is coming from Goodspeed Opera House, where Goodspeed Musicals opens Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend Aug. 3 following previews since July 8.
Rick Faugno and Andrea Chamberlain in The Boy Friend
Rick Faugno and Andrea Chamberlain in The Boy Friend Photo by Diane Sobolewski

The troupe is doing the Charleston under the direction of showbiz legend Julie Andrews at the East Haddam, Connecticut, institution this summer. The whole shebang — a fresh revival of the 1920s musical spoof — will head out on a national tour in the fall.

Andrews is expected to attend the opening night Wednesday.

Jessica Grové, who played Miss Dorothy late in the run of Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie, stars as Polly Browne in the Goodspeed revised revival of the show that has book, music and lyrics by Wilson. The show's first Broadway Polly was Julie Andrews herself.

The production plays the Goodspeed Opera House through Sept. 24, which reflects a one-week extension. The Goodspeed-produced national tour begins this fall in Wilmington, DE.

Oscar and Emmy Award-winner Julie Andrews made her Broadway debut with the musical in 1954; the show originated in London, but not with Andrews. Wilson, who is still around to see the show 50 years after its debut, sends up and celebrates musicals of the 1920s with his romantic, dance-filled musical. In recent weeks, he attended the Goodspeed production and gave his stamp of approval to the revival.

Among amendments to the script is the change from three acts to two.

"Amidst happy flappers and perfect young ladies, romance blooms on the French Riviera as an English heiress suddenly falls for the delivery boy," according to Goodspeed.

Bethe B. Austin plays Hortense; Paul Carlin plays Percival, Andrea Chamberlain is Maisie, Drew Eshelman is Lord Brockhurst, Rick Faugno is Bobby Van Husen, Nancy Hess is Madame Dubonnet, Sean Palmer ( Saturday Night Fever) is Tony, and Darcy Pulliam is Lady Brockhurst.

The cast of 18 also includes Andrew Briedis as Pierre, Scott Barnhardt as Alphonse, Jordan Cable as Marcel, Margot de La Barre as Nancy, Renee Pugh as Monica, Krysta Rodriguez as Fay, Eric Daniel Santagata as Phillipe, Tom Souhrada as Garcon, Kirsten Wyatt as Dulcie. Mike Frankey and Marissa Joy Ganz are swings for this production.

Jessica Grové was seen in Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie and Les Misérables and received a Jefferson nomination for her role as Dorothy in Radio City Entertainment's The Wizard of Oz .

Andrews, whose acting credits include such showbiz landmarks as My Fair Lady, Camelot and the films "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music," originally created this version of The Boy Friend for the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY in August 2003.

Choreography is by John DeLuca. The musical director for The Boy Friend is Michael O'Flaherty, in his 14th season as Goodspeed's resident music director. F. Wade Russo is assistant music director with orchestrations by Dan DeLange.

Scenic and costume design is by Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award-winning Tony Walton (Andrews' close pal and former husband), with Kelly Hanson as associate scenic designer and Rachel Navarro as co-costume designer. Lighting is designed by Richard Pilbrow.

The show's musical numbers, according to the Goodspeed program, are:

"Perfect Young Ladies," "The Boy Friend," "Won't You Charleston with Me?," "Fancy Forgetting," "I Could Be Happy with You," "Sur Le Plage," "A Room in Bloomsbury," "Nicer in Nice," "The You Don't Want to Play with Me Blues," "Safety in Numbers," "The Riviera," "It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love," "Carnival Tango" and "Poor Little Pierrette."

The Boy Friend is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

For more information, visit www.goodspeed.org.

A scene from <i>The Boy Friend</i>
A scene from The Boy Friend Photo by Diane Sobolewski