September 18, 2013

Theater: An over-the-top musical about boys in love

Pandora Productions presents 'Boy Meets Boy'

Boy Meets Boy’
Presented by Pandora Productions. Directed by Michael Drury. Continues through Sept. 22 at the Henry Clay Theatre, 604 S. Third St. For tickets and more info, check out pandoraprods.org.

“Boy Meets Boy” is exactly what it sounds like — a musical comedy about boys meeting boys and falling in love with them. As the opening number suggests, “Boy meets boy, boy loses boy, but boy gets boy in the end.” It’s a simple story, and although there aren’t a lot of surprises, the cast has the kind of winning charm the Pandora production needs to stay light and fun.

Director Michael Drury names marriage equality as the theme of this year’s season, and this piece fits into that frame perfectly. The play deals with the subject of gay marriage in a matter-of-fact way, depicting a world in which gay marriage is an accepted part of life. The politics become secondary, and the love story is the real point of focus. The effect is to show gay marriage as the norm, and, watching the play, you forget that it’s not. Additionally, the fact that the story takes place in the 1930s gives it an old film, romantic quality, making some of the more clichéd moments feel fresh.

As the story goes, Casey (Alex Craig) is a journalist covering the jilting of a high-profile aristocrat. He falls in love with the image of the jilter, Guy (Mitch Donahue), and when Casey sets out to find his love, he finds only the real Guy, a slovenly kid, and refuses to believe it’s him. Mistaken identities and suspensions of disbelief ensue.

The play is well cast with a solid performance by Craig, donning a fedora as the hunky Casey. He plays his character with understated confidence. This is in good contrast to Donahue’s Guy, who has something slightly sad and apologetic about him. The differences between the two men are striking and make for an interesting dynamic. When the two are together for numbers like “It’s a Boy’s Life,” the play is at its best, and you really believe there is something between them. Their relationship juxtaposed against the over-the-top obnoxiousness of the conniving Clarence (Eric Sharp) makes for a fun evening. Another standout is Amanda Kyle Lahti as Josephine. Her performance of “It’s a Dolly” is extremely charming, and her vocal presence commands the stage.

Part of the joy of the event is seeing the ensemble work together as a team. They truly embrace the silliness of the play. There are a few flat notes, and some of the choreography feels pat, but there is also something about “Boy Meets Boy” that feels disciplined and focused; very few moments feel under-rehearsed, and that’s a huge credit to the director and actors. There are also special touches, including a tap-dancing bellhop and living, semi-nude Greek statues, which add to the fun.