Lake Placid students spoof 1920’s musicals with ‘The Boy Friend’
If you go…
What: “The Boy Friend” musical performed by Lake Placid High School students
Where: Lake Placid High School auditorium
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
How much: $10 adults, $8 students
LAKE PLACID — This isn’t Hemingway’s or Fitzgerald’s version of the 1920s. Nobody’s getting shot in a pool or pining over their place in the universe after World War I. No, this is a much happier slice of the ’20s where everything was “berries” and people danced the Charleston all night long.
Lake Placid High School students will perform Sandy Wilson’s “The Boy Friend” Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The musical follows the daughter of a millionaire Polly Browne, a student at Madame Dubonnet’s School for Young Ladies, who boasts about her amazing boyfriend despite not actually having one. She soon forms a relationship with Tony, an errand boy with a few secrets, and the two prepare for the upcoming carnival ball.
“It all happens in the course of a day,” said Emma Bishop, who plays Polly. “We look into each other’s eyes and just instantly fall in love.”
While this is all happening, other girls at the school — Dulcie, Maisie, Nancy and Fay — are playing hard to get with a group of men who wish to marry them.
Lindsey Rath said her character, Maisie, is a real flirt.
“I’m actually in love with the character Bobby, but I like to keep him on a string, as well as all the other guys.”
Also, Polly’s father, Percy realizes Mme. Dubonnet is actually an old girlfriend who’s still interested in getting together. Two seemingly random characters are Lord and Lady Brockhurst, a couple with a fleeting yet comical marriage. So the whole play is a real hodgepodge of people trying to understand the rules of love and attraction.
The musical keeps things on the lighter side of life. There’s no discouraging conflict or depressing characters, and that’s the point, according to the director and LPHS choral music teacher Kim Weems.
“It’s actually a send-up of 1920 musicals,” she said. “It’s a spoof. Apparently, in 1920s musicals everything always worked out just fine in the end.”
Set in 1920s France, the boys wear dapper suits and bowties while the girls don colorful and sparkly flapper dresses. Jamison Batt, who plays Bobby, said the costumes are only one piece of the bigger project.
“You don’t only get to look the part,” he said. “You get to act and sing and dance, which is why I love musicals.”
Bishop, who’s performed in four other LPHS productions, said it’s always a blast working on a production with all her friends.
“It’s a nice play just to get away from life for a little bit and just see romance and comedy and reliving youth.”
Plenty of the cast members said the dancing was the most difficult aspect of the musical, despite being fun and inclusive.
“Sometimes the dances can get a little tricky, but we can work them out,” Bishop said.
“The dances are kind of hard, but we’ve been practicing on them a lot, so it’s been a good experience overall,” Batt said.
In preparation, the Weems had the students watch old films starring Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, who were known for their singing and dancing prowess.
Weems said the students take the play very seriously.
“They’re here because they want their work to be as good as it can be,” she said. “We try to make it as professional an experience as possible, and so we have a professional costumer, a professional choreographer, a professional lighting designer, and [the students] are learning how an actor fits into the whole system.”
Because it takes place in France, much of the cast adopts sultry accents.
“It’s really interesting because of a lot of the characters will start a line in English and finish it in French,” Weems said. “We sought a lot of help from the French teachers.”
Though French is important to the lines, Weems said the language of love is the real key factor in the musical.
“I think the hardest thing to adapt to is the sense of romance and flirtation that American teenagers really don’t have now,” Weems said. “Girls are not as coquettish as they were in the ’20s. These are wealthy young ladies in a finishing school, and so their manners are perfect, and the young men know exactly what they can and cannot do around them. It’s all very different from being a teenager now.”