‘Me and My Girl’ at Cockpit in Court by Amanda Gunther

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
Your lordships, your worships, your fish ‘n’ chips, you are cordially invited to spend an evening at Hereford Hall in Hampshire to meet the new Earl of Hereford; a jolly ride out to the Essex County-side will take you to Cockpit in Court’s final musical of the summer: Me & My Girl. Directed by Tom Wyatt, this brilliant classic is revitalized to the stage with all the glory due to a Broadway musical. With a plot line structured very similarly to The Princess Diaries, only with the genders reversed, it’s a jaunty good time for all who come along for the ride.

Background l to r- Gerald (Patrick Martyn) Parchester (Jeff Burch) Duchess Maria (Judi Milgram) and Sir John (James Hunnicutt) Front Row l to r Sally (Julie Parrish) Bill (Kevin Connell Muth) and Lady Jacqueline (Amy Agnese). Photo courtesy  of Cockpit in Court.
Background l to r- Gerald (Patrick Martyn) Parchester (Jeff Burch) Duchess Maria (Judi Milgram) and Sir John (James Hunnicutt). Front Row l to r Sally (Julie Parrish) Bill (Kevin Connell Muth) and Lady Jacqueline (Amy Agnese). Photo courtesy of Cockpit in Court.

Constructing the grandeur of Hereford Hall is done with an elegant flare by Set Designer G. Maurice “Moe” Conn. From the tall two-story exterior, which then rotates around to reveal a glorious and well furnished interior, to the decadent library complete with moving portraits, Conn creates magnificence befitting of a regal family. Even the dreary streets of London end up looking glamorous in the lamppost night light with Conn’s detailed backdrop painting.

Posh and polished never looked so good on a group of hoity aristocrats than when the Costume Team, composed of Director Wyatt and Della Lotman, sets themselves to the task. Crafting the refined look of the grand duchess, Wyatt and Lotman keep her looking fabulous be it in casual dresses or more suave grayish-purple for the big party. Even Bill and Sally manage to clean up quite nicely in the costumed efforts of the duo, fitting perfectly into their lowly Lambeth threads and evolving into properly put together people as the play progresses.

The dancing in this musical is divine. Serving as the show’s Choreographer, Wyatt really kicks up a storm with the entire ensemble for “The Lambeth Walk.” An intricate box-stroll with fancy hand gestures has the entire company enjoying a jolly good time to close out the first act. Wyatt’s more complex works are showcased throughout the production, particularly with Bill and Sally doing fancy footwork in “Me and My Gal.” Though a bit randomly placed, there is a sensational tap routine, performed by Lady Jacqueline and her Tennis Court Dancers at the end of “Hold My Hand.” Wyatt infuses marching drills into the choreography of “Song of Hereford” to keep the ancestors on the move; a well-rounded display of his dance knowledge.

Chipper and bright sounds echo from the ensemble for the larger numbers like “A Weekend at Hereford” and “An English Gentleman.” They are particularly jovial for “The Sun Has Got His Hat On,” and give a rousing good sound during “The Lambeth Walk.” Wyatt, also acting as the show’s Musical Director, encourages merriment all round; the cast truly enjoying every moment of the show as they go through it.

Making jolly good sport of his simplistic role is Jeff Burch as Parchester, the family solicitor. Martyn delivers a prancing foppish character, especially when he starts mincing about in his solo number, “The Family Solicitor,” which is revived several times, hilariously so, only to be cut short by the Duchess.

With her dancing prowess topping the bill, Lady Jacqueline (Amy Agnese) is a saucy strumpet whose love interests are dictates by her fondness of money. Slinking and crawling all over Bill during “You Would if You Could,” Agnese’s sexual approach to wrangling a man makes her character humorous and devious. She provides a sensual levity to the show, especially when she taps her way through “Hold My Hand.”

The bickering half of the show comes from hidden lovers Duchess Maria (Judi Milgram) and Sir John Tremayne (James Hunnicutt). Providing a great deal of laughter for the audience, Milgram and Hunnicutt trade subtle insults through witty repartee. Hunnicutt’s rich voice creates an uproarious duet with Bill for “Love Makes the World Go Round.” And his drunken shenanigans, carried with a brilliant physical flare, make the show that much more amusing. Milgram has a shrill and pinched polished aristocratic sound. She’s witty, amusing, and a show stealer when laying her zingy one-liners into Hunnicutt’s character. And her voice is stellar when singing “Song of Hereford.” The pair make a brilliant couple on stage and have shining moments that provide laugh-out-loud hilarity for all.

Bill (Kevin Connell Muth) and Sally (Julie Parrish). Photo courtesy of Cockpit in Court.
Bill (Kevin Connell Muth) and Sally (Julie Parrish). Photo courtesy of Cockpit in Court.

Coming into the scene with tart cockney accents are the main lovers Sally (Julie Parrish) and Bill (Kevin Connell Muth.) Both performers are brilliant with well trained voices, both powerful and well-tuned. Parrish has a deep emotional side, which debuts in her solo “Once You Lose Your Heart,” and is reprised with an even deeper remorse in the song’s reprise. She’s comic and touching and provides a slight sophistication to the lower class, acting every bit the sweet girl from Lambeth. When Parrish joins voices with Muth for “Me and My Girl” and “Hold My Hand” they make serene harmonies that delight the audience.

Muth is comic cad; charming in his own unfinished right. With all the charm of a pig mucking about in the mud, he becomes a riotous romping good lad. He’s brimming with love and cheer for his solo “Leaning on a Lamppost.” The humors he provides in his physical shtick, especially when traipsing about in his overgrown cape, is marvelous. His voice, accent, and overall presence is perfect for this role.

You won’t want to miss your chance to experience all the good times to be had out in Hampshire this summer, so make sure you get your tickets soon!

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 50 minutes, with one intermission.

Me & My Girl plays through August 4, 2013 at Cockpit in Court— on the main stage of the Theatre Building of the Community of College of Baltimore County Essex Campus – 7201 Rossville Boulevard, in Rosedale, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 840-2787, or purchase them online.