VIDEO: Armstrong theatre presents the musical comedy, ‘The Boy Friend’

The upbeat love story takes audiences to 1920s French Riviera

Armstrong theatre students are singing and dancing their way through rehearsals in preparation for the upcoming winter musical comedy, “The Boy Friend,” which hits the stage Friday, Feb. 24.

Set in the roaring 1920s in Nice, France, “The Boy Friend” is an upbeat show and “very much a spoof” on musicals predating the 1980s, with unrealistic portrayals of love stories, explained Director Jenny Lovitt.

The show takes place all in one day and centers on the students at Madame Dubonet’s School for Young Ladies, an exclusive girls school.

The first scene has the girls getting ready for the masked ball planned for later that evening.
Polly, played by junior Julia McFarlane, encounters her potential boyfriend in the delivery boy, Tony, played by senior Brennan Palony.

The second act takes place at the beach, where Tony and Polly arrange to meet. A misunderstanding related to Tony’s identity complicates things for the couple. The situation eventually gets resolved, later that evening, at the masked ball, where they inevitably declare their love for each other.

Meanwhile, Madame Dubonet, played by senior Sewit Eskinder, also connects with her long-lost love, Percival, played by sophomore Graham Biggar.

With more than one marriage proposal taking place, “everybody ends up engaged at the end of the day,” Lovitt said, making it a silly and fun romantic comedy.
“We are not dealing with realism,” Lovitt said. “It’s very much a fantasy.”

Lovitt said she believes “The Boy Friend” will make for a refreshing distraction for audiences by providing a “chance for some escapism” from the otherwise negative news of late. “There is also a lot of singing and dancing, which I think is appealing to audiences,” she said.

In addition to its light-hearted nature, Lovitt said the show is very much a “youthful musical” that will showcase all the levels of talent throughout the cast, from the first-year theatre students to the veteran actors.

Veteran actor Eskinder is performing in her eighth show and said she has had fun playing the two different sides of Madame Dubonet, a respectable French woman who is also flirtatious.
Palony described his character as exuberant on stage as he ends up falling in love with a girl in just 12 hours. “It’s super fun” playing the fun-loving character of Tony, which he said was a stark contrast from the “stuffy” character he recently portrayed in the school’s one-act play.

Theatre for Palony has been a relatively recent endeavor. After becoming a chamber singer, he was encouraged to try out for last year’s musical “Mary Poppins.”

What he found was that theatre brought him a lot of joy, Palony said. He decided to quit lacrosse last spring to join theatre full time.
“I really just think it feeds my heart,” he said, of the whole theatre experience. “It’s rather therapeutic for me.”

Additional cast members include Carly Frondell as Dulcie, Ellie Spadaccini as Faye, Josi Nilsen as Nancy, Bailey Loso as Maisie, and Will Burglechner as Bobby. Student stage managers are Natalie Olson and Lukas Fraase. Staff includes Lovitt as artistic director, Molly Kern as technical director, Jean Van Heel as vocal director, Colin Woelfle as orchestra conductor, Megan Kelly Hubbell as choreographer, Matthew Kraft as lighting designer, Joseph Krueger as sound designer, Kirsten Bighia as producer, and Don Berven as box office manager.

IF YOU GO:

Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25 and Friday and Saturday, March 3-4 at Armstrong’s auditorium. There is also a free senior citizen matinée 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 1.
Tickets are reserved at $5 for students and $7 for adults and the box office opens Friday, February 17. Call 763 504-8852.

Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]