Stage Door News
Toronto: Kelsey Grammer will star in “The Boy Friend” March 29-May 3
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
THE BOY FRIEND by Sandy Wilson, the deliriously happy and joyful musical comedy about young love, middle-aged love and older love coming direct to Toronto from an acclaimed, sell-out season at the prolific Menier Chocolate Factory in London and prior to a West End transfer, will have a new star. The beloved stage and screen actor Kelsey Grammer will make his Canadian stage debut in this new production. THE BOY FRIEND will be performed March 29 to May 3, 2020 at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre.
Mr. Grammer will star as Lord Brockhurst in THE BOY FRIEND.
This will be Mr. Grammer’s newest musical theatre production, having previously starred on Broadway in La Cage aux Folles, also a Menier Chocolate Factory production for which he received a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award nomination; the Broadway premiere of Finding Neverland, and more recently L.A. Opera’s limited run of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide and London West End’s production of Man of La Mancha.
Beginning his studies at Juilliard, his classmates included Mandy Patinkin, with whom he would eventually costar in a workshop production of Sunday in the Park with George. Mr. Grammer began his career at The Old Globe in San Diego and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, before making his Broadway debut in 1981 in Macbeth, in which he played Lennox. This was soon followed by Othello, co-starring with James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer.
On television, Mr. Grammer starred as Dr. Frasier Crane for 20 years. For 9 years he played the character in the iconic TV series Cheers; this garnered his own series, Frasier, which became one of the most successful comedies in television history. He was nominated every year in the show’s 11 year run and won four Prime Time Emmy Awards for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. He directed over 30 episodes and sung the show’s famous theme song, "Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs."
"I'm delighted to be in THE BOY FRIEND," Mr. Grammer says. "I look forward to being a part of this charming and funny musical. I'm very glad I get to work again with the team at Menier Chocolate Factory.”
Other casting for THE BOY FRIEND will be announced soon.
Tickets for THE BOY FRIEND will go on sale at 12:01AM Saturday January 18, 2020 at www.mirvish.com or by calling TicketKing at 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333. Tickets can also be purchased at the Princess of Wales Theatre during regular box office hours. Group orders of 15 or more receive reduced rates.
Background to THE BOY FRIEND
THE BOY FRIEND is a love letter to 1920s musical comedies that writer/composer Sandy Wilson adored from his youth. He wrote the play for a small London theatre where it opened in 1953 and became an overnight sensation.
It quickly transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End, where it became the toast of the town and played for five years. In 1954, a separate production premiered on Broadway at the Royale Theatre (now named the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre) and made a star of a very young Julie Andrews. From that point on, THE BOY FRIEND began to be produced around the world, becoming a blockbuster. Over the years, there have been many revivals of the show in London’s West End and on Broadway.
A film based on the stage musical was made by iconoclastic director Ken Russell in 1971, starring Twiggy, Tommy Tune and an uncredited Glenda Jackson. The film was a commercial success, becoming a cult classic and making an International star of Twiggy, who was primarily a model before it.
Set in Madame Dubonnet's finishing school for young women in the south of France, THE BOY FRIEND is a light-hearted soufflé of a show. The perfect young women at the school burst into song at the least provocation. When the story begins they are planning what costume they will wear at the upcoming masked ball, a highlight of their year. More importantly, they are bragging about the boy friends who will accompany them.
As the title songs says: "We plead to have/We need to have/In fact our poor hearts bleed to have/ That certain thing called The Boy Friend."
Polly, one of the young women, is shy and embarrassed that she doesn’t have a boy friend to take her to the ball. She concocts a story about a mysterious beau who will be driving down from Paris, but she refuses to tell any of the other girls anymore about him.
When the costume she has ordered for the ball is hand delivered by Tony, seemingly a messenger from the dress shop, she is instantly smitten.
And so begins the silly fun of the show, with young men and women popping through French windows, frolicking on the beach and dancing in the moonlight. The fun and frivolity of young love infects the older couples, including Tony's parents, Lord and Lady Brockhurst, who become tangled in the web of young passion, because, as Lord Brockhurst's famous song says, "It's never too late to have a fling/For Autumn is just as nice as Spring/And it's never too late to fall in love.”
The New Menier Chocolate Factory Production
Since 2004, the Menier Chocolate Factory — David Babani, Artistic Director; Tom Siracusa, General Manager — has presented revivals and new works in London. Located in an historic building that was once a chocolate factory, the company’s influence is far greater than its actual physical size. The winner of many Olivier and Tony awards for its works, the company has launched plays and musicals that have been seen throughout the English-speaking theatre world. Among the company’s many transfers are Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, Sweet Charity, Merrily We Roll Along, The Color Purple, What’s It All About?, La Cage aux Folles and Fiddler on the Roof.
THE BOY FRIEND began performances in London on November 22, 2019 and opened to stellar reviews.
"This pitch-perfect revival of Sandy Wilson’s exuberant period pastiche.”
- The Guardian
“A simply ripping antidote to those grey skies. The lightness and elegant wit of Wilson’s lyrics, with abundant simple skipping rhymes, seems to charge the actors with a runaway glee. Bill Deamer’s choreography is a delightful flapper-age confection of daffy head flicks, circular hand movements, kittenish back kicks and the kind of lithe-limbed carry-on that can make the dancers appear to be reversing and going forward at the same time. Director Matthew White approaches the lighter than air storyline with an accent on knowing affectation. It’s all beaming, dreamy young things.”
- The Telegraph
“Utterly daft and completely irresistible. Matthew White directs this ridiculous soufflé with a light touch and tongue in cheek.” - The Financial Times
The North American Premiere of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of THE BOY FRIEND is presented by David Mirvish; Book, Music and Lyrics by Sandy Wilson; Direction by Matthew White; Choreography by Bill Deamer; Designer Paul Farnsworth; Lighting Designer Paul Anderson; Sound Designer Gregory Clarke; Hair & Wig Designer Richard Mawbey; Musical Supervisor & Director Simon Beck and Orchestrator David Cullen.