Composer/lyricist/librettist Sandy Wilson's musical Boy Friend affectionately re-created the style of a '20s show when it premiered in London and then in New York in 1954. The 30th anniversary London revival supervised by Wilson that produced this cast album marked an even longer period of time than that between the show's 1926 setting and its original production. So, the distinction between a real '20s musical like, say, No, No, Nanette, and this amusing facsimile had all but disappeared in the mists of time. That may have been just as well, since Wilson, who in his liner notes professed amazement at the show's longevity and success, did not intend it as a parody so much as a pastiche of the lightweight, tuneful, effervescent Broadway diversions of the Jazz Age. As such, it was as likely to work just as well in 1984 as in 1954, or any other time for that matter. And, in fact, it had worked consistently in productions large and small over the years. This is at least the eighth recording, counting two earlier ones from the West End, two from Broadway, one from Australia, a 1965 studio-cast version, and the movie soundtrack. It is certainly the longest, boasting lots of extra music in the form of dance interludes and repeated sections, as well as a fair amount of dialogue. In fact, it may be too long (although, oddly, not long enough to include the "Carnival Tango" number). The cast often seems to be overplaying the material, which, if anything, should be underplayed or at least played seriously (the better to appreciate the humor). Several of the singers are talented, notably Jane Wellman in the central role of Polly. But she would have had to go a long way to outdistance her predecessors in the part, notably a youthful Julie Andrews, and that's asking too much of anybody.
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