There aren’t many outdoor venues that can accommodate a tennis court and a croquet lawn as part of the set, but this is Kilworth House Theatre and creating magic is what they do. It’s an inspired setting for depicting the aristocracy at play in the showstopping number, The Sun Has Got His Hat On.
A scene from Me and My Girl at Kilworth House Theatre (previous picture shows Neil Ditt as Bill Sibson and Gemma Sutton as Sally Smith) Photo: Jems Photography
Toffs abound in this story of Bill, the archetypal Cockney who inherits an earldom, and Mitch Sebastian gives them plenty of rope with which to hang themselves. Beverley Klein’s formidable Duchess can lower her voice almost to bass in order to thrill and Kirby Hughes does impossible things with her legs to play the vamp. Peter Caulfield’s Gerald out-toffs them all, cavorting in a sunsuit and petulantly chewing the tassels on the cushions.
Surrounded by this clutch of caricatures, Gemma Sutton as Bill’s girl, Sally, does a fine job of straight acting and tender singing in numbers like Once You Lose Your Heart. The energetic Neil Ditt milks the role of Bill for all it’s worth. His comic timing is excellent and his bow-legged entry after a riding lesson brings the house down.
The show builds slowly, bursting into life with the Lambeth Walk that closes Act I. The ten-piece orchestra is prominent on stage, conducted by Garth Hall from a piano whose lid doubles as a dance floor and sports a darts board for an instant pub scene. And David Howe’s lighting of stage and woodland contributes to a feelgood factor that is almost off the scale.