BRATTLEBORO -- Had enough of the frigid temperatures? Tired of shoveling snow? Sick of cold and flu season?
Yup ... winter can sure grind on.
Enter the Brattleboro Union High School Music Department and a spirited troupe of actors, singers and dancers to lift us out of our doldrums with a production of the musical, "The Boy Friend."
The show was slated to have opened Thursday, but that performance has been postponed because of the pending snowstorm. Performances will now be Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets for Thursday’s show will be honored at the Saturday matinee.
Set in the Jazz Age, this light, romantic spoof of 1920s musical comedy doesn’t have an unpleasant bone in its body. Fans of intense, emotionally complex, searing and poignant dramas won’t find much to latch on to; for the rest of us, "The Boy Friend" is just what our February needs.
"We’ve been doing some pretty heavy-duty shows -- ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Chicago.’ This is light and fluffy and fun and wholesome," said Director Robert Kramsky. "It’s pretty much a dessert."
Though it’s often performed, "The Boy Friend" is one of those musicals that probably deserves a little more notoriety than it gets. Best known as the show that gave Julie Andrews her start on Broadway in 1954, "The Boy Friend" features a fun, romantic plot, toe-tapping Jazz Age-inspired music and happy endings all around.
"I never heard of this musical until Kramsky brought it up," said Corinne Epstein, a senior at BUHS, who plays the role of Maisie.
"I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before," said Kramsky. "It’s the perfect high school musical. ... It’s about high school age boys and girls."
Set on the French Riviera, "The Boy Friend" introduces us to Polly, an English heiress attending Mme. Dubonnet’s Finishing School. She falls in love with Tony, a delivery boy. Recalling her father’s warning to beware fortune seekers, she poses as a common girl, unaware Tony is in fact the missing son of the wealthy Lord Brockhurst. Things get complicated with the unexpected arrival of Polly’s parents and Lord and Lady Brockhurst. Somehow, it all works out, in a happy ending buttoned up nice and cozy. Music Co-Director Steve Rice likened it to a Gilbert & Sullivan, but set in the Jazz Age.
Whatever it is, the 18 students in the cast are having a blast bringing it to life.
"It’s hilarious ... and the music is very catchy," said Ian Epstein, who plays Tony.
"Everyone’s loving it," added Liam Reynolds, who plays Tony’s pal Bobby Van Husen.
Audiences should, too. Performances take place Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. It’s an ideal "Date Night" show.
"It’s fun and lighthearted and romantic, and we have a show on Valentine’s Day," said Corinne Epstein.
Though it doesn’t have any chart-topping, classic songs, the music is fun, swinging and tinged with the sounds of the Charleston and other 1920s styles.
"Play it like you’re Fred Astaire dancing ... not me dancing," joked Rice as he coached the orchestra through rehearsal Monday afternoon.
Rice and Kramsky are part of a production team that has more experience than most Broadway shows. Kramsky and Producer Mitch Davis have been doing this for 38 years. Rice is in his 26th year and fellow music co-director Anthony Speranza is in his 20th. The production staff also includes Mary Linney (14 years as costumer), Aimee Johnston (stage manager), Melanie Zinn (10 years as choreographer) and Seth Richardson (19 years helping with sound). That adds up to more than 160 years of combined experience -- they plan to stop when they hit 1,000.
But it’s the young actors and actresses who bring it to life, and they’ve had a blast doing it. The cast is smaller than other BUHS productions -- 18 in all -- but that has its advantages.
"Because it’s a small cast, we’re very close," said Kristina Meima, who plays Polly.
The BUHS production features Kristina Meima (Polly Browne), Ian Epstein (Tony), Vanessa Brown (Madame Dubonnet), Clark Hamm (Percival Browne), Elijah Taylor (Lord Brockhurst) and Abby Sherlock (Lady Brockhurst), as well as Corinne Epstein, Julia Waldron, Anja Alden, Bonnie Hart, Natasha Diamondstone, Jason Guerino, Mycroft Stone, Malcolm Toleno, Zeb Hathaway, Liam Reynolds and Devon Rinaldi.
The pit orchestra is comprised of BUHS students and community musicians: Rowan Hawthorne, Carley Wainwright and Tom Nasiatka (clarinet), Ben Janis, Claire Thomas and Tom Nasiatka (saxophone), John Sawyer-Shaw and Kyra Johnston (trumpet), Tyson Pond (trombone), Sally Fletcher (bass), Michelle Liechti and Heather Sommerlad (violin), Patty Meyer (piano) and Jacob Gartenstein (percussion).
Tickets, at $10 and $6 are available in the front office of the high school on weekdays from 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., or at the door. More information is available from the BUHS Ticket Desk at 802-451-3407.