ME AND MY GIRL, Drury Lane Oakbrook. In 1937, when this evergreen musical debuted, the English monarchy had been shaken by a most unsuitable liaison between the king and an American divorcee. Here Bill Snibson, an East End bloke suddenly proclaimed the long-lost 14th earl of Hareford, must choose between noblesse oblige and true love.
Though anachronistic and heavy on the gags, Stephen Fry’s 1986 revision restored Me and My Girl to appreciative new audiences. And director Gary Griffin has the cast, period-perfect costumes, and vaudevillian verve to make this cornball precursor of My Fair Lady a rambunctious rouser. Also credit the rubber-faced Brian Stepanek, whose Snibson is a Dickensian delight, a confident cockney full of gangly grace. Best of all, Stepanek can turn any prop–pocket watch, black derby, coronation robe–into a Chaplinesque homage. Leisa Mather underlines the pluck that makes stalwart Sally stand out from the Mayfair snobs. Ann Whitney and Dale Benson are the elder Harefords clumsily befriending their new relations, and Cheryl Sylvester plays a fortune hunter rabid to bag Bill. Steven Anderson and Ray Frewen are suitably silly as the obligatory upper-class twit and Gilbert-and-Sullivan-style solicitor.
Among many serviceable songs, the first-act finale stands out. “The Lambeth Walk,” an infectious romp delightfully choreographed by Marla Lampert, offers the upper and lower classes a rare opportunity to let down their hair and discover they’re all human.