Me and My Girl

Me-and-My-Girl-LondonLondon Cast, 1985 (EMI) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) This production took a very charming, very old musical, gussied up the book, the score, and the arrangements, and presented it to the public as a lovely nostalgia fest. Me and My Girl had originally opened in London in 1937 and enjoyed a very long run. With music by Noel Gay and book and lyrics by L. Arthur Rose, the show tells the sweet tale of Bill Snibson, a cockney ne’er-do-well who turns out to be an earl and is pressured to forsake his Lambeth girlfriend, Sally Smith, when he assumes his title. Director Mike Ockrent, producer Richard Armitage, and executive producer David Aukin supervised the musical’s rebirth, incorporating revisions by playwright Stephen Fry and Ockrent, and interpolating several songs with music by Gay from other sources. The production proved to be a big success in London and, a year later, on Broadway. Among the best numbers are the title song, Bill’s “Leaning on a Lamp Post,” and the catchy “Lambeth Walk,” which was a huge international hit in 1937 and delighted a new generation of audiences when resurrected in the 1980s. The recording is skillfully produced by Norman Newell. As Bill, Robert Lindsay is a real charmer, and so is his Sally: Emma Thompson, who went on to a brilliant career as a highly respected actress in non-musical films. — Michael Portantiere

Me-and-My-Girl-BroadwayBroadway Cast, 1986 (MCA) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) The Broadway transfer of the hit London revisal of Me and My Girl inaugurated the Marquis Theatre, located within a mammoth new hotel whose construction entailed the razing of several old theaters, including the venerable Helen Hayes and Morosco. This may have predisposed many Broadway old-timers to hate the show, but Me and My Girl was so much fun that it was impossible to harbor any ill will toward it. Robert Lindsay repeated his West End role of Bill Snibson and received a Tony Award for his efforts. Maryann Plunkett, an utterly winning Sally Smith, also won a Tony. Among the old pros on hand in supporting roles are Jane Connell as Maria, Duchess of Deane; George S.Irving as Sir John Tremayne; Timothy Jerome as Herbert Parchester; and Justine Johnston as Lady Battersby. That superb cast, plus the fact that the CD booklet notes by musical theater expert Stanley Green are far more extensive than those for the London album, will make this the preferred recording of the show for many listeners, although some will want to check out the previous album if only for Emma Thompson. — M.P.