YORK company Pick Me Up Theatre stride into the Grand Opera House, York, with the much-loved musical Me And My Girl, show-stopping Lambeth Walk and all, from Tuesday.

The 1937 show with its string of wonderful Noel Gay tunes, such as Leaning On A Lamppost, is being staged in Stephen Fry’s revised 1980s’ version, the one that removed the original racist lyrics from The Sun Has Got Its Hat On.

Directed by Pick Me Up artistic director Robert Readman with musical direction by Sam Johnson and choreography by Jessica Hardcastle, the L Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber musical revolves around the haughty aristocratic Hareford family, who are horrified to find that the long-lost heir to the earldom is cheeky Cockney geezer Bill Snibson (played by Finn East).

Maria, Duchess of Dene (Beryl Nairn) vows to transform him into a “fit and proper” gentleman, but what will happen when she demands that he must break up with his Lambeth girlfriend, Sally Smith?

Taking the role of Sally will be Emily Chattle. “I’ve never done Me And My Girl before, but I did do My Fair Lady with Pick Me Up in 2017, and Stephen Fry’s version of Me And My Girl makes reference to Professor Higgins as it’s set in the same society world,” says Emily, who graduated from the University of York last summer with a degree in English Literature.

“Sally is pulled in two directions really. The main thing she wants is for Bill to do well, and so she tries to leave him several times, but he won’t let her,” she continues.

York Press:

"There’s a difference between what she wants and what she needs," says Emily Chattle of Sally Smith. Here she is pictured with Finn East's Bill Snibson 

“At the same time, there’s a difference between what she wants and what she needs. She’s trying to be the heroine by giving Bill the life he’s being offered without her in it.”

Sally is difficult to play because “she’s not your stereotypical female romantic lead”, suggests Emily. “She has a battle within her: is Sally leaving because she wants to or because really she wants Bill to chase her?” she says.

“It comes out differently each time I play her; I don’t think it has to be the same each time; so I go with how Sally feels, and that’s not a bad thing as it can surprise even me.”

While the lyrics for The Sun Has Got Its Hat On have been changed, Me And My Girl still has some awkward moments. “There are references to Gerald slapping Jackie and Bill threatens to hit Sally with a book, but what you have to do is tweak it a little in the way you play it, hyping up the comedy and pumping up the female power,” says Emily, whose two big numbers are Once You Lose Your Heart and Take It On The Chin.

“Everything Sally does is her own decision, though the Duchess is a force to be reckoned with too, trying to keep Sally on point and saying she is the boss.”

Coming next for Emily will be Joe McNiece’s new musical, Twilight Robbery, directed by York Stage Musicals’ Nik Briggs at 41 Monkgate, York, from May 20 to 25. “I’ll be playing Young Joyce, a ghost of the lead character, in a story set in an old people’s home, where she’s suffering from dementia and has flashbacks to her earlier life, which is where my ghost character comes in,” she says.

Tickets for Me And My Girl are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.

Charles Hutchinson