Double celebrations were the order of the day at the Grand Opera House this week on the opening night of St. Agnes’ Choral Society’s latest production, Me And My Girl … for not only is the original show now in its 80th year, but the company – one of our most celebrated and acclaimed – is also marking its 60th Anniversary with this big birthday bash of a production.
Congratulations to all involved on both the occasion and on turning out such a highly entertaining show.
This very funny musical comedy with its cross-generational spread of characters was the perfect vehicle to field a large and impressive line up of talented principals … both old and new to the company.
Whilst all are worthy of mention, I must particularly single out Michael McDowell as the brow-beaten and soft-hearted Sir John, Fiona Keegan as the bossy upper-class matriarchal Duchess and Lorraine Jackson Brown as the feisty gold-digger, Lady Jacqueline, for their faultless and extremely experienced performances in a large cast and ensemble of very enthusiastic performers … this was a special occasion for all on stage and everyone was determined to also make it special for the audience.
A satire on the English class system – when toffs and cockneys intertwine to create a clash of cultures – this show is, by nature, very English (with more than a nod to Gilbert & Sullivan and My Fair Lady) and Stephen Fry’s revised script is peppered throughout with some great one-liners.
This always poses extra challenges for the two principal leads, as each has to cope with mastering both common and posh accents in addition to the right comic timing to deliver their one-liners with impact … and each has to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson!
Unusually, both performers here – Kerry Rooney’s Bill and Aideen Fox’s Sally – were each making their debut with the company in such important roles, but the company need not have worried about any risk taking with this pair.
With a voice like an angel (e.g. Once You Lose Your Heart), Fox turned in an extremely confident performance throughout, ranging from the cocky cockney girlfriend to the sympathetic and sensitive young girl who is prepared to walk away from both riches and her boyfriend for the greater good to becoming a ‘proper’ lady.
As the central character, Rooney was a natural and really impressed with an energetic, enthusiastic and believable performance of this very demanding role, whilst displaying the right degree of comic timing and visual comedy to get the laughs when required.
Although there were more highlights than I can mention, this production boasted some great choreography (especially during the Lamp-post ballet and Lambeth Walk), a truly perfect musical backing from the orchestra throughout, a superb choral sound (both on stage and in the pit) and while the attention to detail of using sound effects and the inclusion of some old music hall visual comedy (the comical coat routine and the short armed person) was a nice touch.
Full marks to everyone involved for such an entertaining night, especially the production team of Laura Kerr (Creative Director), Wilson Shields (Musical Director), Ann Marie Morgan (Choreographer) and full technical team.
Happy 60th Anniversary to all at ‘Aggies’!!!
Me And My Girl continues at Belfast’s Grand Opera House until Saturday.