“The Flanagan and Allen Story” is a musical celebration of one of the best-loved comedy-singing duos who headlined the British Music Halls during their heyday. Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen were ultra-popular because they appealed to the working class audiences with their humor, and their songs reflected the struggles before, during and after WWII.
Frank Collins, the impresario of the NoHo London Music Hall, has written and directed this wonderful tribute show, jam-packed with all the beloved Flanagan and Allen songs. So it’s no wonder that appreciative audiences have been bursting into spontaneous sing-a-longs during the performances. It’s a delightful romp down memory lane, especially for Anglophiles and transplanted Brits who want to belt out “Underneath the Arches,” “Run Rabbit,” “Siegfried Line” and “Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner,” among other classics.
Collins also gives a spot-on, high-energy performance as Flanagan, the clown prince of the pair, known for his shoddy fur coat and straw hat. Exuding more dignity and sartorial splendor is Frank Kesby as Allen, the consummate straight man, who offers the narration that guides us through their lives. Friends for more than 50 years, the twosome met during WWI, teamed up afterwards for careers that spanned music halls, movies, radio, TV and many royal command performances.
Supporting them on their journey is music hall maven Florrie Forde, played with gusto by Deborah Anne Berry (understudy of Valerie Swift who will be back in the role next week). Elba Soto Quinones as Curly Quinn was extra lovely singing “Mr. Right,” and Anastacia Rose, playing Aleta Turner, grabbed the spotlight singing and dancing to “I Got Rhythm.” Mikaila McMaster added to the chorus of lovely fresh faces who made all their routines sweet treats. And let’s give credit to Patsy Metzger for all the dance numbers, as well as music arrangements by Dave Siebels.
It is very apparent that Collins has great affection for Flanagan and Allen, and it won’t be long before the NoHo theater crowd falls in love with them too.
“The Flanagan and Allen Story” shows at the NoHo London Music Hall (10620 Magnolia Blvd.) on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 or $15 for seniors and students. For more information, call (818) 762-7883.