A pearly king and queen entertained invitees at the launch today (23 May 2006) of a major new production of Me and My Girl at the St George Hotel off Regent’s Street, with cockney rhyming slang and a singalong as entertainment. The musical opens at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in September for an eight-month tour ahead of a possible West End run in 2007 (See News, 20 Apr 2006).

The 1937 musical comedy - which will celebrate its 70 birthday while this production is on tour - sees cockney bloke Bill discover he’s heir to a fortune. But would he rather have a life of luxury than live happily ever after with his girl Sally?

In 1985 Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson famously played the couple in a revival at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre. Lindsay won an Olivier and a Tony, while the production played for more than eight years in London and three years on Broadway.

The new production - directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle (protégé of Susan Stroman) and designed by Walt Spangler – stars Richard Frame (Our House and, most recently, Promises Promises in Sheffield) and Steps’ Faye Tozer (Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Sally Smith. The cast also features Trevor Bannister, Dillie Keane and Sylvester McCoy.

McCoy told Whatsonstage.com today: “I jumped at the chance to be in this when I was offered it. I originally auditioned years back for the role of Bill, but then I got Doctor Who so ended up doing that. Playing the family solicitor will be great fun, I am really looking forward to it.”

Me and My Girl has music by Noel Gay and lyrics by L Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber who also jointly wrote the book, which was revised in the Eighties by actor-writer-comedian Stephen Fry with contributions by Mike Ockrent.

Producer Alex Armitage, grandson of the musical’s writer, Noel Gay, told Whatsonstage.com: “My grandfather wrote it and it is such a joyous show. Everyone comes out of the theatre happier than they were when they went in, so it really was the only choice of show for me to produce. With the tour, I hope to bring it to as wide an audience as possible and get it out there. I am just so happy to see it back on stage again as it’s been 21 years since the last major production.”

The production will open at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on 4 September (previews from 28 August). Following Plymouth, Me and My Girl will continue to Sheffield, Manchester, Malvern, Woking, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Edinburgh, York, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Brighton, Stoke-on-Trent, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, Bradford, Birmingham, Newcastle, Cardiff and Southampton, where its schedule concludes – with some dates still to be confirmed – at the end of April 2007. The musical is presented on tour by Alex Armitage for Noel Gay Productions and Edward Snape for Fiery Angel.

- by Caroline Ansdell