The Lambeth Walk hasn’t quite stood the test of time, but the vivacious performers in 42nd Street Moon are having fun bringing the dance back in for “Me and My Girl,” onstage at the Gateway Theatre in The City.
The San Francisco troupe devoted to bringing back “lost” musicals hoofs up a storm in the 1937 show by L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber (book and lyrics) and composer Noel Gay; the, show, which spawned The Lambeth Walk dance craze in London in 1939, was revived on the West End in 1952 and 1985 before making its way to Broadway in 1986 — where it had its last apparent major production.
It’s not difficult to see why. The thin story revolves around a good-natured, little-working cockney fellow, Bill, who learns he’s heir to an English earl, and the deceased aristocrat’s family’s attempt to mold Bill to their ways, most particularly by making sure he dumps his lower class sweetheart, Sally.
Mindy Cooper directs and choreographs the lively cast in broad performances, the actors milking every questionable joke (“What do you live on? — my wits – you must be undernourished”) and mugging up a storm.
But Keith Pinto as Bill, who incorporates acrobatics into his smooth, skilled physical comedy, is a delight, as is Melissa WolfKlain as his girl Sally, who sells every tune with her sweet, natural voice.
Their rendition of the show’s title song is a highlight, as is the Act 1 closer “Lambeth Walk,” with the whole company — upper and lower crusts together — cavorting onstage, even playing spoons. In colorful costumes by Liz Martin reflecting their characters’ place in society, the choristers are marvelous, and the number is a hoot.
In Act 2, the showstopper is Pinto’s solo, reminiscent of Gene Kelly, in “Leaning on a Lamppost,” a song not in the original 1937 show, and interestingly, a hit by pop rock band Herman’s Hermits in the 1960s.
Music director Dave Dobrusky on piano, Nick De Scala on reeds and Max Judelson on bass provide expert accompaniment to the frothy proceedings.
Me and My Girl
Presented by 42nd Street Moon
Where: Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 6 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays; closes May 20
Tickets: $25 to $75
Contact: (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org
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