"My One and Only " premiered on Broadway in 1983 and won three Tony Awards. (This is a rewrite by Peter Stone and Timothy S Mayer of the famous 1920s show Funny Face by George and Ira Gershwin.). It is only now being produced in London, and to be honest it is not at all a good production. It is messy and fails to flow smoothly, with the show stuttering from beginning to end. And although some of the ideas for the dance routines are good, they are executed appallingly. Either the choreographer lacked the talent to bring the ideas to fruition, or the London cast was having an off day.
Set in 1920s America, the plot concerns 'Captain Billy Buck Chandler', a daredevil aviator who is trying to be the first man in history to fly solo across the Atlantic. However, he is distracted when he falls in love with a beautiful English Channel swimmer, 'Edythe Herbert'. But true love does not run smooth as Prince Nikki is holding Edythe ransom by threatening to reveal to the world pictures of her in a compromising position, unless she agrees to stay with him. This is a simple and delightful plot, which is all that is needed as a vehicle to perform such classic George and Ira Gershwin music and songs. Unfortunately, Loveday Ingram’s direction lacks the ‘American razzmatazz’ that this show so badly needs to lift it out of its mediocrity.
Janie Dee as 'Edythe Herbert' is endearing and sexy, but Tim Flavin as ‘Captain Chandler’ lacks grace and ease in his dancing and his tongue-in-cheek acting fails miserably! Jenny Galloway, brings some welcome comedy, but she is disgracefully underused and Hilton McRae is a disappointing Prince Nikki, but he does perform an amusing ‘death scene’ in the second act! Only Richard Lloyd King as Mr Magic had star quality with some delicious dance movements that made the rest of the cast seem quite ordinary, but then that’s because they were ordinary.
Nevertheless, for all its many faults there are still many classic songs such as 'S'Wonderful", "Funny Face", "Strike up the Band" and "Nice Work if You Can Get it" and as it is a happy upbeat musical one can derive some pleasure from it.
I may not have liked the show much, but everyone else seemed to...........NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, “You come out tap-dancing on air, thanks to the addictive rhythms of the songs and music.” MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, “The songs are delightful, the choreography first rate - and even if the show feels as if it has been assembled rather than actually created, it leaves us with a pleasantly comfortable glow.” PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, “The show is dance-driven, with hit-and-miss (mostly hit) synchronised tap choreography” CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says it is a “warm, glamorous production” and goes on to say, “My One and Only looks like a splash hit to me.” JOHN THAXTER for THE STAGE says, "Gorgeous, tuneful staging".
Die-hard Gershwin fans will love it, others after an escapist evening may be mildly amused, but the rest will probably be disappointed by its amateur feel.
Links to full reviews from newspapers...
2001 was a particularly disappointing year for new musicals in London, however the New Year has started tremendously well, with several notable productions already. Chief amongst them is My One And Only at the Piccadilly Theatre. This is a delightfully happy, sugar filled, feel-good show with something for everyone. Based on the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin, Peter Stone and Timothy Mayer’s 1983 reworking of the original vehicle for much of this music, Funny Face (1927), stitches together the great Gershwin magic in a surprisingly appetising form.
The story is perhaps incidental to the music and fantastic dance numbers, but it does provide the links without getting in the way. This is the classic routine of boy sees girl, falls in love with girl, contrives meeting (unsuccessfully) with girl, and eventually snatches girl from evil impostor, winning the day. Hopeful transatlantic pilot Captain Billy Buck Chandler (Tim Flavin) falls for a member of a swimming troupe that is visiting New York in 1927. The girl in question turns out to be none other than Edythe Herbert (Janie Dee) famous for being the prettiest face, if not the first, to swim the English Channel. However between Captain Billy and the girl that he desires lies Prince Nikki (Hilton McRae), who it transpires, is in New York on more nefarious business. It would not be spoiling the story to reveal that via a desert (or not) island, Mr Magix’ Emporial, Central Park, and The Aquacade Pool (amongst others) we finally reach a happy ending in Club Oasis – Morocco.
Whatever you think of the story, you cannot fail to be mesmerised by the dance routines – too often these days, London musicals seem to be mainly static affairs. Nothing could be further from the truth in My One And Only, with every other scene filled by high class tap routines – there is even time for a Fosse-esque number up amongst the clouds. Mr Magix’ Emporial (where else would you find a white tap dancing aviator) witnesses some of the best moments, with the eponymous owner (Richard Lloyd King) and his rhythm boys strutting their spectacular stuff. I also much enjoyed the rendition of ‘S Wonderful, sung by Captain Billy and Edythe as they danced on the sandy beach at the water’s edge – ‘s marvellous.
On top of all this, the acting is accomplished, with both Flavin and Dee looking absolutely at ease and in their element, and with strong support from the entire cast, notably Richard Lloyd King, Jenny Galloway (mechanic Mickey) and Richard Calkin (Reverend J D Montgomery).
This is an all round great night out with fantastic music, energetic dancing, and entertaining acting. With songs like High Hat, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, ‘S Wonderful, Nice Work If You Can Get It and My One And Only, this can be nothing other than an uplifting production, and a deserved triumph for its director Loveday Ingram. My only disappointment – the end came too soon!