Running for a total of 12 performances, UNC’s School of Theatre Arts and Dance brought to life Sandy Wilson’s 1953 musical “The Boy Friend,” closing with a matinee on Sunday. Directed and choreographed by guest Patdro Harris, a distinguished writer and Broadway choreographer, “The Boy Friend” is a melodramatic, upbeat spoof of the romantic 1920s era.
Colorful and comedically exaggerated, the musical takes place in the French Riviera at Madame Dubonnet’s School for Young Ladies. The musical follows a group of giggling young women dressed in bright, flamboyant dresses, all of whom swoon during the namesake opening number and detail their desires for “that certain thing called ‘The Boy Friend.’”
Amidst pestering from her friends about her own beau, wealthy main character Polly meets poor messenger boy Tony. Both are smitten as soon as they look in each other’s eyes. Polly tells Tony she’s poor to ensure he isn’t after her money, as a bell sounds and the lighting changes to blue. The two fall more in love and agree to be each other’s dates at the Carnival Ball costume party that evening. What follows is a wonderfully theatrical representation of finding love and reveling in its excitement.
The line between real life and fiction was blurred, as the stage sits in the middle of Norton Theatre with the audience seated all around it. As the actors danced into the aisles and came on- and off-stage through doors hidden between the pews, the cast was able to truly connect with the audience, seemingly feeding off their enthusiastic responses. A small cast of less than 20 passionate actors and actresses perfectly encapsulated the energy of the time period by incorporating sass and flair into every word and every movement.
The School of Theatre Arts and Dance will return with a production of “Legacy of Light” from Nov. 2 through Nov. 12 in the Norton Theatre.