Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend
An heiress' quest to land a boyfriend is the heart of this 1920s jazz-inspired spoof.
Show Essentials
10
Roles
+ Ensemble
G
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

Act One

The show may open with an optional curtain speech. In the speech, a cast member briefly describes the period of the show, the 1920s. The actor assures the audience that the era roared as loudly in England and along the Riviera as it did in America. The announcer then introduces the band, the Bearcats.

We open in Madame Dubonnet's Finishing School outside of Nice, France. The girls, all in their late teens, enter in a tizzy. They are scolded by Hortense, the chic French maid at the school, and reminded of their noblewomen-like expectations ("Perfect Young Ladies"). Enter the demure Polly Browne, announcing that her secret escort for the costume ball that evening will arrive at any moment. She plans on attending the dance in costume as Pierrette, and, in anticipation of the festivities, the girls reflect on the essential element for their exciting night ahead: the boy friend ("The Boy Friend").

Headmistress Mme. Dubonnet appears. The girls disperse, but she asks to speak with Polly. After a bit of cross-examination, Polly admits that she has no date for the dance; her wealthy father forbids her to have a boy friend, and young men who show interest in her might only be after their family fortune. Mme. Dubonnet assures Polly that she will speak with Mr. Browne as soon as he arrives for the ball.

Maisie, Polly's vivacious classmate, interrupts. After Mme. Dubonnet leaves, the dapper playboy, Bobby Van Husen, appears at the French windows and, although Maisie tries to shoo him away, he begs her to promise him every dance at the ball ("Won't You Charleston with Me?"). As they leave, Percival Browne, a pompous older gentleman — and Polly's father — arrives to see Mme. Dubonnet. As she enters, she is startled. It is a sudden moment of recognition. They begin by discussing Polly, but Mme. Dubonnet suggests that they have met before. She asks Percival if he remembers her, but he insists that he does not ("Fancy Forgetting"). The romantic tension is obvious to most. 

Polly comes in just as Tony, a messenger boy, delivers a package intended for her. Their attraction to one another is instantaneous, and she invites him to escort her to the carnival ball as Pierrot. They dance. Tony professes that he could be happy with Polly if only she could be happy with a lowly messenger boy ("I Could Be Happy with You"). They plan to meet at the bandstand on the beach later that afternoon. Tony leaves as Polly realizes that she doesn't even know his name. 

Percival enters and sees Polly; he notices her joy and happiness, and she secretly reveals to all of the girls that her "boy friend" has, indeed, arrived ("The Boy Friend – Reprise").

Act Two

That same afternoon at the shore, everyone is in beach attire, having a lovely time ("Sur Le Plage"). Lord Brockhurst, complete with monocle and high blood pressure, enters, flirting with the bathing beauties, but Lady Brockhurst is close behind. They discuss the mysterious disappearance of their son, Tony, from his college at Oxford. Lord Brockhurst continues eyeing the young girls in their bathing costumes.



Elsewhere, Polly and Tony meet up as planned. She denies being an heiress to a fortune, claiming to be a lowly secretary at the school. They joyously share their enthusiasm for the simple life ("A Room in Bloomsbury"). They are on the verge of a kiss as Hortense comes in. She is horrified. Polly convinces Hortense to keep their secret from Mme. Dubonnet, and the couple run off as the other young bathers arrive en masse, teasing Hortense. 



Lord Brockhurst spots Mme. Dubonnet with Percival Browne, and Brockhurst is smitten with the lady. She leaves to find Percival a bathing suit, and Brockhurst questions Browne about her. Percival resents the intrusion, though. Lady Brockhurst arrives again and whisks her husband away as Mme. Dubonnet comes back with bathing trunks in hand. Percival doesn't want to put them on, and Mme. Dubonnet bemoans him being a bad sport ("You Don't Want to Play with Me Blues").

All of the boys are focused on the coquettish Maisie, begging her to promise them a dance at the ball. She flirts with all of them, to Bobby's frustration ("Safety in Numbers"). Tony and Polly enter and arrange to meet at the cafe at nine before the ball ("I Could Be Happy with You"). They kiss as the Brockhursts enter and spot their son, Tony. He runs off as the Brockhursts call for a gendarme. In the confusion, everyone believes that Tony is a thief — including Polly. She fears that this means he was a gold digger all along.

Act Three

On the terrace of the cafe, couples are dancing. Mme. Dubonnet and Percival discuss Polly and realize that she is indeed in love and in need of a confidante. They recall their Armistice Day rendezvous. Bobby proposes to Maisie, and she promises to give him an answer at midnight; the other girls accept similar proposals from Alphonse, Marcel and Pierre. They agree to give their beaux answers at midnight, as well. The boys are frustrated by having to wait ("The Riviera").

Tony enters, and Hortense buttonholes him. She reports that Polly is broken-hearted. He enlists Hortense to urge Polly to attend the ball and he leaves to change into his costume. Lord Brockhurst, meanwhile, flirts with Dulcie. She says that he is too old to be flirting with her, but he protests, citing the advantages of loving a mature man of the world ("It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love").

Suddenly, a forlorn Polly, costumed as Pierrette, appears. Lady Brockhurst recognizes Polly as the girl with Tony and, upon seeing Polly in her costume, Mme. Dubonnet recalls a song that she knew as a child and sings it for Polly to cheer her up ("Poor Little Pierrette"). Tony, costumed and masked as Pierrot, arrives and approaches Polly, asking for the next dance. She is unsure, but his kiss assures her that this is her Tony.

The Brockhursts embrace their son. Tony and Polly admit to each other they have been flying under false colors. He confesses that he is the heir to the Brockhurst fortune, and she admits that she is the daughter of the millionaire, Percival Browne. Percival Browne then announces that Mme. Dubonnet has agreed to become his wife. It's suddenly midnight, and the boys await their fate. It's a unanimous yes! They all dance and sing ("The Boy Friend / A Room in Bloomsbury – Reprise").

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Older Roles
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Maisie
Young Lady at Mme. Dubonnet's school. A madcap finishing school student who has all the boy's attention.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: Bb5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Dulcie
A young and lovely Lady at Mme. Dubonnet's school who is sincere and gentle.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Fay
Young Lady at Mme. Dubonnet's school and a bit of a rebel.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Nancy
Young Lady at Mme. Dubonnet's school, polite.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Polly Browne
A young, sweet, soon-to-be-wealthy lady at Mme. Dubonnet's school and a clear-voiced romantic.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Madame Dubonnet
The stuffy, stern, scrupulous, head-mistress of the school with a caring soft side.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Hortense
A chic French maid at the school who likes to enforce good moral standards in the girls.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 60
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Bobby Van Husen
A rich, good-looking student and young hopeful romantic.
Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Percival Browne
A pompous elderly English gentleman and Polly's wealthy father.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 60
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Tony
An attractive, secretly wealthy English messenger and romantic, breathtaking suitor.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Lord Brockhurst
A jolly, yet frisky old aristrocrat and wealthy English blueblood.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 60
Vocal range top: Eb4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Lady Brockhurst
Lord Brockhurst's stuffy wife who is equally rich and British. She is gaunt and severe.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 60
Ensemble
Waiters, Students, Suitors
Full Song List
The Boy Friend: Overture
The Boy Friend: Perfect Young Ladies
The Boy Friend: The Boy Friend
The Boy Friend: Won't You Charleston?
The Boy Friend: Fancy Forgetting You
The Boy Friend: I Could Be Happy With You
The Boy Friend: Sur La Plage
The Boy Friend: A Room In Bloomsbury
The Boy Friend: Nicer In Nice
The Boy Friend: The You-Don't-Want-To-Play-With-Me Blues
The Boy Friend: Safety In Numbers
The Boy Friend: The Riviera
The Boy Friend: It's Never Too Late To Fall In Love
The Boy Friend: Poor Little Pierrette

Show History

Inspiration


Set in a finishing school in France in the 1920s, The Boy Friend draws on both the music and the aesthetic of the roaring twenties. Written in 1954, during the Golden Age of the modern book musical, the show is a pastiche of 1930s musicals, such as those written by Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart (who wrote a musical called The Girl Friend in 1926.)

Productions

The Boy Friend initially opened at London's Players' Theatre Club on April 14, 1953. It then opened in the West End at Wyndham's Theatre on January 14, 1954. Proving to be very popular, the show ran for 2,078 performances – over five years. 

The show then opened on Broadway at the Royale Theatre on September 30, 1954. The show got raves, but closed on November 26, 1955, after 485 performances. The Boy Friend was revived in 1970, starring Sandy Duncan as Maisie. It opened at the Ambassador Theatre on April 14, 1970, and ran for 111 performances.

In 2003 a production of the The Boy Friend opened at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. This production was later presented at the Goodspeed Opera House from July to September 2005. The production then toured North America from October 2005 through March 2006.
 
On its fortietth anniversary, The Boy Friend returned to The Players' Theatre in 1995. Directed by Maria Charles (the original Dulcie) with choreography by Geoffrey Webb (from the original company), the new production was intentionally a reproduction of the original.

 In 2006, The Boy Friend played the Open Air Theatre at Regent's Park, London. Proving to be highly acclaimed, the production was revived during the theatre's 2007 season.

Cultural Influence

  • In 1971, a film version of The Boy Friend was made, directed by Ken Russell and starring Twiggy. The National Board of Review voted Russell best director, and Twiggy won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Newcomer and Best Actress (Musical/Comedy). The film was remastered and released to DVD in 2011.
  • Because of The Boy Friend's success, Sandy Wilson wrote Divorce Me, Darling! A show that catches up with the same couples ten years later and is often presented as a companion piece.

Trivia

  • The Boy Friend marked Julie Andrews' American Stage Debut.
  • Julie Andrews then made her directorial debut with a production of The Boy Friend at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY, in 2003.
  • The show was briefly the third-longest-running show on Broadway and the West End, after Chu Chin Chow and Oklahoma!. It was eventually surpassed by Salad Days.

Critical Reaction

"Just the right combination of parody, nostalgia and candid paraphrase of a period... a constant pleasure."
– The New York Post

"Charming... positive and disarming... companionable and sympathetic. A delightful burlesque."
– The New York Times

"A rollicking rib."
– Newsweek

"A gay, witty spoof."
– TIME Magazine

Theatre World Award

1955 - Best Debut Performance, Winner (Julie Andrews)

Drama Desk Award

1970 - Outstanding Performance, Winner (Sandy Duncan)

Outstanding Performance

1970 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Performance)

Tony® Award

1971 - Actress (Musical), Nominee (Sandy Duncan)

Connect

Playbill Vault (Original)

Playbill Vault (1970 Revival)

Lucille Lortel Archive (1958 Off-Broadway Production)

Billing

Requirements

You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
SANDY WILSON'S
"THE BOY FRIEND"
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK18
PIANO CONDUCTOR'S SCORE2

Production Resources

Resource
LOGO PACK
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT SMALL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT X-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT XX-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD SMALL
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING
REHEARSCORE+
REHEARSCORE+ DIGITAL
VIRTUAL STAGE MANAGER

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASS
GUITARBANJO , GUITAR
PERCUSSIONBELLS , CASTANETS , RACHET , TOM TOM , WHISTLE , WOOD BLOCK
REED 1ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , SOPRANO SAX
REED 2ALTO SAXOPHONE , BARITONE SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , SOPRANO SAX
REED 3BASS CLARINET , BASS SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , SOPRANO SAX , TENOR SAXOPHONE
TROMBONE
TRUMPET
VIOLIN