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Boy Friend

The Boy Friend (sometimes misspelled Boyfriend) is a musical by Sandy Wilson. The musical’s original 1954 London production ran for 2,078 performances, making it briefly the third-longest running musical in West End or Broadway history (after Chu Chin Chow and Oklahoma!) until it was surpassed by Salad Days. This musical marked Julie Andrews’ American stage debut. Written in the fifties as “a new musical of the twenties”, this is still the most successful, tuneful and witty of the send-up musicals, which recreate the style of earlier, lighter-hearted and more disarming days.

Set in the carefree world of the French Riviera in the Roaring 1920s, The Boy Friend is a comic pastiche of 1920s shows. The title is an obvious parody of The Girl Friend. Its relatively small cast and low cost of production makes it a continuing popular choice for amateur and student groups.

Sandy Wilson wrote a sequel to the The Boy Friend. Set ten years later, and, appropriately, a pastiche of 1930s musicals (in particular those of Cole Porter) it was titled Divorce Me, Darling! and ran for 91 performances at London’s Globe Theatre in 1965. It is sometimes revived as a “double bill” with The Boy Friend.

In The Boy Friend, Madame Dubonnet’s finishing school, near Nice, could exist only in musical comedy. The charming young pupils burst into song at the least provocation, and forbidden boy friends are forever popping through the French windows to make up the numbers. Polly Browne is too rich to be allowed a boy friend. Tony, for whom she falls, turns out to be the Hon. Tony Brockhurst, which is very lucky, because Polly thought he was just a delivery boy.

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