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AHS promises lightheartedness and fun in 1920s-themed musical 'The Boy Friend'

Ashland High School Theatre enters the era of flappers and the Charleston with its spring musical "The Boy Friend," a comedic spoof of 1920s musicals.

"I wanted to do this show because it's old-fashioned — prim, proper and funny," says Betsy Bishop, Ashland High School's theater producer. "It's about British girls on the Riviera looking for boyfriends. The show is goofy and lighthearted. And the dancing is adorable."

Shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, May 5-7 and May 12-14. Matinees are set for 2 p.m. Sundays, May 8 and 15, in the Mountain Avenue Theatre, 201 S. Mountain Ave. Reserved tickets are $20 and can be purchased only online. General seating is $15, $10 for students and seniors.

Tickets are available online at showtix4u.com, by calling 866-967-8167 or at Paddington Station, Tree House Books and Music Coop in downtown Ashland.

Written by Sandy Wilson, "The Boy Friend" originally opened in 1954 in London. The production ran for more than 2,000 performances, making it briefly the third-longest running musical in West End or Broadway history in its time.

Bishop also is happy to bring on John Stadelman — who has worked as an actor with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — as director. "I've worked with John since 1997," Bishop says. "He directed 'Cinderella,' our first show in the new theater. Every musical he’s done for us has been a giant hit." 

Stadelman loves working with the students. "We have laughed a lot as we worked on the show. It's a good theater education. Students learn how to project their voices and show big emotion on stage."

Principal players in the musical include Jonathan Connolly as Tony Brockhurst, Corinne Maddox as Polly Browne, Nur Shelton as Bobby Van Husen, Tessa Buckley as Maisie, Amelia Sorenson as Mme.Dubonnet, Liam Atkins as Percival Browne, Kyle Storie as Lord Brockhurst, Keely Yant as Lady Brockhurst and Sienna Ross as Hortense.

"The students love it," Bishop says. The British humor in the musical is dry and serious, but the delivery makes the audience want to laugh.

Famous songs include “Won't You Charleston with Me?” “I Could Be Happy with You" and “It's Never Too Late to Fall In Love.”

In addition to Stadelman as director, the creative team includes musical director Tamara Marston, orchestra conductor Travis Moddison and choreographer Suzanne Seiber. Costume design is by Ariel Greninger, assisted by Emma Craig, with Doug Ham delivering the set design. David Pedersen and Bart Grady are the tech directors; Pedersen is the master carpenter, and Grady is the lighting designer. Stage manager Emma Durbin is assisted by Hannah Bellinson and Cloe Sutherland.

For Stadelman, the choreography has been a key ingredient in bringing the essence of the '20s to life on the stage. 

"Suzanne has had an absolute field day with this show and done a fabulous job. There's lots of Charleston and lots of flapper," he says.

"The Boy Friend" is a fun, family show suitable for all ages. "I felt we needed something to lighten the mood — nothing serious or dark," Stadelman says. "It is over the top, but sincere. There's a little bit of a wink behind the style."