Me & My Girl
Loughborough Town Hall
4th October 2023
Somehow it’s been 6 months since Loughborough group ESNA’s fantastic production of ‘Hello Dolly’, and the talented bunch have been busy over the summer putting together their next show for us. This time they’re taking on ‘Me & My Girl’, and Emma Adcock (who played Dolly back in April) takes on the role of director this time around.
‘Me & My Girl’ premiered way back in 1937 and saw success both in London and later on Broadway. It hasn’t been seen regularly since the late 80s, but it remains a popular choice with amateur groups for its lively characters, sunny disposition and memorable songs. Set in late-1930s England, the aristocratic Hareford family are trying to locate their new heir, who will become the 14th Earl of Hareford and take on the family legacy and fortune. They are appalled to discover the beneficiary is “salt of the earth” Lambeth local Bill Snibson (played by Darryl Clarke), a cheeky cockney chappy who’s as far removed from the Hareford’s upper class ways as can be. His Aunt Maria (Julie Easter) tells him that a condition of the will states he must marry someone within his new social standing to secure the fortune, threatening his relationship with fellow Lambeth lass Sally Smith (Laura Hardy).
ESNA’s reputation for delivering really high quality shows is in no danger of being tarnished, as ‘Me & My Girl’ is yet another success for the group. It’s a great choice of show, warm and witty with a great sense of fun, and is sure to be another crowdpleaser. It is very much “of its time” as a musical, lacking plot but full of the quaint charm of yesteryear which modern audiences may now find twee, but with likeable characters and a strong score, it achieves what it sets out to do, entertaining its audience and putting guaranteed smiles on faces. There is a timeless sense to its comedy, admittedly occasionally bordering on “dad jokes” a few times too often, but most of it works, and feels organic to the piece and time period, probably changing little since the original book was written (Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose).
Emma Adcock does a great job directing, clearly a woman of many talents (who can forget her fantastic performance as Ursula in ESNA’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ last year), and stages the piece well. The sense of whimsy and strength of heart shine through, and there’s a polished assurance to the production that impresses. Noel Gay’s original music sounds great, played live by a rich-sounding orchestra (led by MD Josh Hill), and Nicola Scoggins’ choreography keeps the ensemble busy, remaining lively and light throughout.
Anyone who saw ESNA’s brilliant ‘Kinky Boots’ may remember Darryl Clarke’s fabulous Lola. He’s even better here as Bill, full of charming swagger and quick timing, the character fitting him like a second skin. He shares a great chemistry with all of the other principals, appearing to be loving every minute and it shows. Laura Hardy’s Sally pairs with Clarke beautifully and makes a wonderful partnership, although she’s a knockout on her own too, owning her West End-quality voice and excelling in her solos. She has a real authenticity to her and she’s a joy to watch. Julie Easter is also great as snooty Aunt Maria, lending a charming elegance to the show, and Gareth Busson brings a huge amount of joy to Sir John, particularly in his scenes with Clarke.
ESNA have done it again, and while it needs a fuller story and it may be showing its age (it is 86 after all), ‘Me & My Girl’ has a delightful likeability to it that’s hard to resist. It’s only on until Saturday, so we suggest you “Do The Lambeth Walk” over to Loughborough and support this talented group.
‘Me & My Girl’ runs at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 7th October 2023.
Performance runtime 2 hours 35 minutes including interval.