This Bill Solly and Donald Ward delight was written in the 1970's and enjoyed off-Broadway success until pulled in the light of the growing HIV problem when "gay friendly" musicals were considered not good box office. Times, fortunately, have changed and we are now, especially in these financially dull and dreary times, hungry for things gay (in the oldest sense of the word) and that often means 'gay' (in the modern vernacular!).
This is a 1970's take on a 1930's musical, paced like one of those glorious sunday afternoon black and whites we watched as kids. Cleverly, it choses to confront the homoisexualstigma of thre times by not only ignoring it but by painting a picture of a trully toleranty society, one in which sexual orientation has ceased to be an issue. Men and women (mostly men!) are free to marry men or women (in this context also mostly men!) according to love and no one even notices the gender mix. The result is more light hearted, but no less thought provoking, than those contemporary musicals which confronted prejudice in a more head-on style.
The story (boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets back together with boy) is simple but never trite, the music is genuinely hummable and there are some really funny moments, not secret smile amusing but surprised laugh out loud funny. Gene David Kirk, in his last production at the Jermyn Street Theatre as Artistic Director, keeps the show really alive and makes the cast work really hard to ensure we have a good time ... in less capable hands this could have come over as a thin, dated, production, no risk of that here!
Don't let the tiny size of this theatre fool you, they have fitted in live music, a cast of 13, big dance numbers (love that tap routine) and a versatile set. The only down size is that there is so little seating that only a few will see it, still, hopefully, this production will have put this gem of a musical back into peoples' sights for the future. A real, genuine, delight of a show.
Under Gene David Kirk's Artistic Directorship the Jermyn Street Theatre has become a venue to challenge the best in London. Situated as it is just off Picadilly Circus it is right in the heart of the West End both geographically and, now more than ever, artistically. London will be a tad duller when Gene moves on ....