Perfect Young Ladies — Steven Tenney Reviews “The Boy Friend”
I saw The Boy Friend four times, not simply because several of my students were in it — but because it was a thrilling show, brilliantly conceived and beautifully performed. LeCee Galmiche Johnson, the producer, director, and choreographer, wove together an evening as seamless and sparkling as the musical itself. And audiences, enthralled from the start, quickly realized the caliber of the show they were seeing. The singing, dancing, and acting of the stellar cast were virtuosic and continuously captivating. Superb musical direction and choreography — and deftly sensitive dramatic interpretation — were everywhere apparent. Number after number brought the house down with roars of delight.
Seeing the show several times was a wonderful window on its continued growth, its creativity, and its comic and dramatic nuance. It illuminated as well the fascinating richness of the doubled roles. The principal cast members were [names of children removed for child protection]. The “Perfect Young Ladies” were perfectly accompanied by musical director Dan Radzikowski on piano and Sarah Schiff on drums.
One of the show’s many treasures was the graceful and ingenious inclusion of the “auxiliary”, much younger players — who showed they too could capture the audience with presence and charisma.
From the incandescent leading roles (the “Perfect Young Ladies”), to the masterfully done supporting parts, this was a show that had literally no weak spots or slow moments. Credit for that miraculous accomplishment must go not only to the cast, but to LeCee herself, her musical director Dan Radzikowski, and contributing choreographer Ben Watts. But, as LeCee acknowledged with flowers on closing night, parent after parent came forward to contribute their expertise.
Janet Mervin, Elaine Bevington, and Carol Cote created the many dozens of costumes in the show with an unerring sense of fashion, style, and ensemble. They were both gorgeous on the cast and, together with the impeccable scenic design of Yves Mervin-Leroy, gracefully evoked not only period and place, but a luminous innocence.
The family-friendly nature of the event extended to the pacing of the entire evening and the intimate and professional nature of the theater, which was ideally suited for the production.
As Thornton Wilder once said when speaking of the theater: “Life imitated is life raised to a higher power.” Veterans of the theater will recollect those rare and unexpected occasions when this promise is fulfilled. That is what happened in a humble theater in the West Village at March’s end. Much like Tony, who delivers a package for Polly that is really the gift of true love — this show delivered, magically wrapped, the transformative joy of real theater and true art.
One wishes the author himself had been there. In the 56 years since the show was penned, it is hard to imagine a production better serving the perfect mixture of sweetness, humor, theatrical thrill, and devotion to the music and era it is an homage to. And, now that the show is over, life without it seems — in the words of the perfect young ladies — “quite impossible and devoid of all charms.” We can only hope that LeCee Galmiche Johnson and company will once again take the community back into their talented and loving arms.
— Steven Tenney
(The Boy Friend, music, lyrics, and book by Sandy Wilson, was presented by The NYCHEA Players at the Wings Theatre, 154 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City on March 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30, 2009.)
(Steven Tenney has for many years taught math in both the home-schooled and schooled communities. In his spare time, he writes plays himself.)