Cover of vocal score

The Boy Friend

Book, Lyrics and Music by Sandy Wilson

Produced at Wyndham's Theatre, London, January 14, 1954 (2084 perfs)
Royale Theatre, New York - September 30, 1954 (485 perfs)


Madame Dubonnet's finishing school, near Nice, could exist only in musical comedy. The charming young pupils burst into song at the least provocation, and forbidden boy friends are forever popping through the french windows to make up the numbers. Polly Browne is too rich to be allowed a boy friend. Tony, for whom she falls, turns out to be the Hon. Tony Brockhurst, which is very lucky, because Polly thought he was just a delivery boy. Written in the fifties as "a new musical of the twenties", this is still the most successful, tuneful and witty of the send-up musicals, which ape the style of earlier, lighter-hearted and more disarming days. 


Act I

The whole musical is set in the Villa Caprice where Maisie, the girls (Dulcie, Nancy, Fay), Hortense the maid, and Mme Dubonnet live at Mme Dubonnet's School for Young Ladies. Act I begins when Hortense orders a costume for "a Miss Polly Browne" and Maisie and the other girls sing the ironic "Perfect Young Ladies" with Hortense. Polly arrives and tells everyone about her made-up boyfriend who is "motoring down from Paris" to meet her for the upcoming carnival ball, and sings about "The Boy Friend". Later, Bobby surprises Maisie, and they dance to "Won't You Charleston with Me?"

Polly's widowed father Percy arrives at the school to discover that the headmistress, Mme Dubonnet, is an old flame of his. They sing "Fancy Forgetting" to rekindle the spark. Though Polly is a millionaire's daughter, she feels left out because she's the only one in her crowd who doesn't have a boyfriend and she needs a partner for the fancy dress ball. The errand boy, Tony, arrives to deliver her Pierrette costume and they are immediately attracted to each other and sing "I Could Be Happy with You."

Act II

The curtain opens with the chorus number "Sur la Plage". After this, Polly and Tony meet at the beach and Polly lies that she is not rich, to fit in with Tony. They sing about their future lives together in "A Room in Bloomsbury." They are about to kiss when Hortense interrupts them and is shocked to find Polly with a poor messenger boy. Polly begs Hortense to keep her secret and Hortense agrees. After Tony and Polly leave, Hortense sings how everything is "Nicer in Nice" with the ensemble. Then the "aging roué" character Lord Brockhurst arrives, leading to a comical meeting with the rigidly mannered Percival Browne. Lord Brockhurst's domineering wife Lady Brockhurst is also introduced. Percival Browne and Mme Dubonnet then sing "The 'You-Don't-Want-To-Play-With-Me' Blues".

Polly goes to meet Tony on the promenade just as Lord and Lady Brockhurst are passing by, and they recognize him. When he runs off, everyone else assumes that he is a thief. The act ends with a sadder reprise of "I Could be Happy with You" sung by Polly and the other characters.


At the ball, Bobby and the three boys propose to Maisie and the three girls, but the girls reply in unison that "we'll let you know at midnight" and everyone dances to "The Riviera". After everyone has left, Tony and Hortense run into each other. Hortense scolds Tony and tells him to meet Polly at the ball because she loves him as much as he loves her. Tony leaves to prepare for the ball as Lord Brockhurst sings "It's Never Too Late To Fall In Love" with the flirty Dulcie, and is caught by Lady Brockhurst. At the Carnival ball, Polly is sad that Tony is not there, and she is thinking about leaving. Hortense tells Mme Dubonnet to persuade Polly to stay, so Polly sings "Poor Little Pierrette" with Mme Dubonnet. Tony later arrives at the ball and takes Polly by surprise. He asks, "May I have this dance, Pierrette?" to which Polly replies, "I'm afraid I can't dance with a stranger". He then kisses her to remind her that it is he. When Tony removes his mask, Lord and Lady Brockhurst run to him, exclaiming they found their son at last. Polly and the others discover that Tony is really the son of the rich Lord and Lady Brockhurst, and he had left home to try to make his own way in the world. Polly tells Tony that she is rich as well, and Percy and Mme Dubonnet announce that they are getting married. The clock strikes midnight, and the girls unanimously say yes to the boys' proposals. The last scene has everyone dancing as soon as Bobby, with the last spoken line in the play, asks "So how about that dance?" The show ends with a reprise of "The Boy Friend", "I Could Be Happy with You", and "A Room In Bloomsbury".

For the Chorus

Originally intended for a small cast (half a dozen pupils, boy friends to match, and a handful of extras), it can be, and frequently has been, expanded very considerably without showing the slightest strain. Set firmly in Boop-a-Doop country the music makes an instant appeal to performers and audiences alike with attractive syncopations and a modicum of part singing. The chorus appear as pupils, boy friends and guests at a fancy-dress ball. 

Singing Principals

Polly Browne, Maisie, Dulcie, Fay and Nancy, pupils.
Madame Dubonnet.
Hortense, her maid.
Tony, Bobby, Marcel, Pierre and Alphonse, boy friends.
Percival Browne, Polly's father
Lord Brockhurst, Tony's father 

Straight Role

Lady Brockhurst.

The Scenes

Drawing-room of the finishing school.
The Plage.
Terrasse of the Café Patoplon
(One full-stage set for each Act, with an interval change)

Musical numbers:

Perfect Young Ladies - Chorus of Girls with solo Hortense
The Boy Friend - Ensemble
Won't You Charleston? - Bobbie and Maisie
Fancy Forgetting - Mme Dubonnet and Percival
I Could be Happy with You. - Tony and Polly
Sur La Plage - Ensemble
A Room in Bloomsbury. - Tony and Polly
It's Nicer in Nice - Hortense and Ensemble
The "You-don't-want-to-play-with-me" Blues - Mme Dubonnet and Percival
Safety In Numbers - Maisie and Boys
The Riviera - Bobby, Maisie and chorus
It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love - Lord Brockhurst and Dulcie
Poor Little Pierrette - Mme Dubonnet and Polly 


1st and 2nd Violins, Cello, Double Bass, 1st and 2nd Clarinets doubling Alto Sax, 3rd and 4th Clarinets doubling Tenor Sax, 2 Trumpets, 1st and 2nd Trombones, Percussion, Guitar doubling Banjo 

Original 1954 Cast Recording