Friday, January 27

Me and My Girl – Storyhouse Chester

Chester Operatic Society are celebrating their centenary this year and they have brought the classic that is Me and My Girl to the Storyhouse, Chester.

Me and My Girl follows the story of Bill Snibson, a Cockney from Lambeth, found to be the long-lost Earl of Hareford. This is a type of rags to riches story as the family try to change Snibson to become the type of Earl that is stated in the previous Earl’s will, but as Snibson does not want to give up his ‘Girl,’ Sally Smith, will he be able to convince the family that he is right to person to inherit the title and Estate of Earl of Hareford or will he leave it all behind and return to Lambeth and his girl?

Artistic direction and Choreography provided by Rob Stevens with assistance from Laura Morris and Musical Direction from Wendy Dickinson.

Dan Coleman leads the company as Bill Snibson and shines as the Cockney fella, delivering the hilarious script with ease and likeability. This is a mammoth role to undertake and for the most is fantastic. There are times when Coleman seems a little lost when beginning songs, relying heavily on looking at the Musical Director to come into songs. This takes away from the lively, confident character he portrays. Coleman got a little lost during the tap dance in the Me and My Girl number, which would be less noticeable if he continues to smile and keep his head up. This could have been down to first night nerves and are small issues in a fantastic overall performance from Coleman. Snibson’s Girl, Sally Smith, brought to life by Laura Morris beautifully with so much ease and energy. Morris has a beautiful voice, delivering strong vocals which commands the attention of the audience and when she tap dances, she does so with lightness and ease, giving the impression she is floating. Morris dealt with a slight microphone mishap early on with professionalism which is to be commended.

Photo: Mark Carline

Steve Riordan is enjoyable as Sir John Tremayne, adding much humour and heart to the piece. Amy Robinson delivers a strong Lady Jacqueline Carstone, with beautiful vocals. Elliot Tutt as Gerald Bolingbroke steals the show for me. Overly camp, fantastic mannerisms with fantastic vocals and timing. Neil Allcock as the solicitor gives a nice performance but occasionally was like watching two different performances as Allcock comes alive when singing and dancing, especially during The Family Solicitor, I just wished he could use this same energy when delivering his script as possibly nerves took over and there was quite a noticeable amount of stumbling over lines.

There is quite a large ensemble for this show and for the most delivered a lovely performance, but I felt on a couple of occasions it seemed a little hectic on stage. This was most notably in An English Gentleman. This number does not have a lot of stage space and there were so many cast members on stage that they were squeezing past each other and almost falling over each other. From a vocal balance, there are so many ladies on the stage that you could not hear the vocals from the small number of men. During The Lambeth Walk, there are a fair amount of ensemble members that seemed unsure of the routine, drawing the audiences’ eye but not for the right reason. Again, this could be down to first night nerves, but I feel some of these numbers could look more aesthetically pleasing with fewer cast members on the stage in one go.

I enjoyed the set immensely, it looks fantastic and is used very well, with scene changes happening quickly and smoothly keeping the flow of the show ticking along. I was impressed with the lighting, designed by Nathan Storm, picking out many minute details from the beginning even with the opening cloth and I appreciate the smaller details here. Sound by Dan McAllister for the majority was excellent, there were a couple of tiny mic issues, but these seemed to be dealt with quickly. My only issue with sound was from the band. Far too many times they were much too loud during scenes, to the point in one scene you could not hear any dialogue on stage. I am unsure if this is a sound level issue or a directorial issue to have the cast deliver lines over that part of music, but it did not land how it should have.

Overall, I enjoyed the performance and the comedy absolutely helped carry this piece along.

Me and My Girls runs until Saturday 11th June, including a matinee on Saturday with tickets available from https://www.storyhouse.com/event/me-and-my-girl

Reviewer: Damian Riverol

Reviewed: 8th June 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★

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