|April 26, 2005
Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or
The musical that made actress Julie Andrews an overnight sensation in 1954 is set to take stage at California State University, Bakersfield. Performances of Sandy Wilson’s “The Boy Friend” are scheduled for May 19-29 in the Doré Theatre on campus. The show, which ran for 485 performances on Broadway, is helping kick off CSUB’s 35th anniversary and pre-inaugural gala.
Musicals are only performed every third year at CSUB because of their costly undertaking. “It’s a big show,” said director and theater professor Mandy Rees. “We feel we can pull it off because of our resources and the opportunities it provides for our students.”
Rees is thrilled with the cast for this production. “This is a wonderful ensemble and there is tremendous depth to this pool,” she said. “For many it’s their first musical.”
With its catchy tunes, period dances – including the Charleston – and light sense of humor, “The Boy Friend” is a tongue-in-cheek romp. “It’s been called a valentine to 1920’s musicals,” Rees said. “It’s a show that will have you smiling, tapping your toes, and forgetting your worries.”
The three-act show is set on the French Riviera in the 1920s. Polly Browne, an English heiress attending Madame Dubonnet’s Finishing School, falls in love with Tony, a delivery boy. However, Polly recalls her father’s warning of fortune seekers and poses as a working girl. She is unaware Tony is actually the missing son of the wealthy Lord Brockhurst. Another love story begins to unravel with the unexpected arrival of Polly’s father, Percival, who discovers the headmistress is an old flame. Things start to get complicated with the arrival of Tony’s parents and a case of mistaken identity. Despite the confusion, audience members should expect a sweet ending to this tale.
“This story is like cotton candy,” said Matt Lindsay, who’s starring in his final CSUB performance as Percival Browne. “It’s light hearted and complete fun.” Even though Lindsay has been in a number of plays at CSUB, he has still discovered a few challenges. “I’m trying to fill the shoes of the older Percival Browne. I’m playing the typical, stuffy English gentleman, but need to make the portrayal of the character three-dimensional to make it believable to the audience.”
Marcy Dow is starring in her first CSUB show as Polly and has found some challenges of her own. “Polly is the most grounded character, she’s the ingénue, but I want to find ways to make her distinct and memorable.”
Although the musical is simple in plot, this “Boy Friend” hasn’t been the easiest relationship for cast members. “It’s a very ambitious project,” Lindsay added. The show itself contains more than a dozen songs and 10 dance numbers performed with a live orchestra, which has definitely required some rehearsal time. The cast has been working with choreographers Marilyn Stone, Shari Fortino and music director Peggy Sears.
One of the many highlights of the musical also includes the set and costumes. The show will have three complete set changes for each act designed by theater professor Chris Eicher and elaborate costumes created by Roger Upton.
“The Boy Friend" opens in the Doré Theatre at the CSUB campus on Thursday, May 19 for a six-performance run. The curtain will rise at 8 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, May 19-21 and again May 27-28, with a matinee performance May 29 at 2 p.m. Cost is $10 general admission, $8 for faculty, staff and senior citizens, and $5 for students with identification.
The May 19 opening also features an opening-night gala, the first event in CSUB’s two-day 35th anniversary celebration and presidential inauguration. Tickets to the gala include a pre-play dinner, the performance and post-play dessert buffet with the cast. Proceeds from the gala ticket sales help underwrite the musical and support the Fine Arts Merit Award Scholarships. Tickets for the opening-night gala, which are separate from regular admission, are $60 per person.
For tickets to “The Boy Friend,” please call the Doré Theatre Box office at (661) 664-3150. For tickets for the opening-night gala, please call (661) 664-2136.