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Oh Kay!

by on 11 May 2006

A Polished Pearl

Oh Kay!

by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin

BROS Theatre Company at the Hampton Hill Playhouse until 13th May

Review by Mark Aspen (from the Archive)

A seldom-seen pearl was revealed recently by BROS at The Hampton Hill Playhouse.

In 1926, in the middle of US prohibition, the Gershwin brothers decided to write a musical about bootleggers …  …  and to invite that archetypal English eccentric, PG Wodehouse to write the lyrics!  The result was Oh, Kay!, a comic medley of marital misunderstandings.

The bootleggers wait in a beach mansion on New York’s Long Island for the booze run to put ashore.

Their leader is Shorty, a wise-cracking hoodlum, energetically played by Stuart Harris.  The runners’ ship is the yacht of ‘Pops’ an English aristocrat, and by gad Jonathan Simmons was magnificent in this role.  Even when drunk as a lord, he kept his stiff upper lip, and sang splendidly.

The house has been shut up for the winter, so the hoods are surprised when Jimmy Winters, its wealthy owner, appears.  Not only is he on his honeymoon, but a 14-strong troop of dancing girls, The Cottontails (named after their patchy suntans!) also arrives.

Rachael Hughes’ choreography of these leggy lovelies included some dazzling tap sequences.

The warm timbre of Chris Morris’s singing enhanced his lively performance as Jimmy, a man struggling with the possibility that his new marriage to (the somewhat inconstant) Constance might not be valid.

Lizzy Ross’s portrait of the bride had a tangy mordant edge.  The cameo role of the pedantic Judge Appleton, the bride’s father, was played by Gary Sherwood (yes, the Sadlers Wells’ principal dancer of the 1960’s!).

The apple(ton) cart is truly upset by the wily, flirtatious Kay, gorgeously played and beautifully sung by Sue Astbury, who really brought the musical favourite Someone to Watch Over Me to vivid life.

Director Wesley Henderson Roe and his team have polished this pearl to give us a show that is a lot more than just Oh Kay!

Mark Aspen, May 2006

Photography courtesy of BROS

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