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'Boy Friend' is a charmer

February 14, 2006|by CHRIS NUTH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Spoofs rarely work, but such was hardly the case with Mercersburg Academy's Stony Batter presentation of "The Boy Friend," which ran Feb. 9 through 12 at the school's Keil Hall stage.

Lampooning any subject matter takes a degree of skill and talent, both of which Sandy Wilson clearly exhibits with his 1950s spoof of the English musical comedies of the 1920s.

"The Boy Friend" is about, in a word, relationships. Sometimes they flourish and sometimes they fail, but this play proves that they're fun to watch unfold either way.

The story is centered on the lives of the girls at Madame Dubonnet's Finishing School. Everybody there, from students to the French maid to elite women, has some drama in their lives.

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Polly Browne, played with perfection by 10th-grader Anna Hunka, is no exception. She finds herself without the vital element that every girl needs - the proverbial boyfriend. With adulthood looming ahead and the big dance only days away, Polly begins her search for that one special guy. And, needless to say, hilarity ensues.

High-school productions normally have a certain stigma. Seeing people you know doing things you wouldn't expect is naturally funny, but is there humor for those seven billion people that just don't happen to attend Mercersburg Academy?

Yes. Oh yes, indeed. This play is a riot. It is charming without being saccharine and flashy without sacrificing the story. Each musical number builds in both scale and humor, with my personal favorite being "Safety in Numbers." The idea of a woman having multiple "safety" boyfriends and singing about it had me writhing around my chair in laughter.

The set design was fun and bright, but minimal due to the cramped stage. (All of that will change next fall with the opening of the school's new Burgin Center for the Arts.)

But the stage provided maximum room for the musical's bevy of dancers. The untrained actors were literally transformed into dancing pros over the course of the production, and it all shows up onstage. Various styles, including the always lovely tango, make appearances.

English accents, fun dances, great lyrics, lovable characters, and a biting satire - even all that praise does not do Stony Batter's "The Boy Friend" enough justice.

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