Review: Julie Madly Deeply & The Boy With Tape on His Face (Mirvish)

Julie Madly Deeply

Julie Madly Deeply pairs with The Boy with Tape on His Face for a Mirvish double feature at Toronto’s Pansasonic Theatre

Julie Madly Deeply and The Boy With Tape On His Face are a Best Of The Edinburgh Festival double bill brought to Toronto by Mirvish. Each is a one person show where the performer is also the writer, and both are quite funny in different ways. Julie Madly Deeply is a musical biography of Julie Andrews’ career presented by avowed fangirl Sarah-Louise Young, while The Boy With Tape On His Face is prop comedy with a lot of audience interaction.

Julie Madly Deeply is probably a must-see for people who adore Julie Andrews, but even those only aware of her via the cultural touchstones of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music will enjoy the show. Andrews’ life is not atypical for a celebrity, but Young presents it with passion, charm, and innovative techniques. For example, she takes on the mode of a race track announcer when describing Andrew’s rise as a youth, competing with other young singers such as Petula Clark and dogged at the heels by poor self-esteem and an abusive step-father.

Young is a fine singer herself, accompanied on the piano by musical director Micheal Roulston, who wore an exceedingly dapper suit and often made the audience chuckle just by reacting with facial expressions.

It is impossible to leave the show without a deep respect for Julie Andrews – she performed My Fair Lady over two thousand times! She did a show the day after having her wisdom teeth removed! – but I also left with an appreciation for Young and a hope that someday she can achieve her dream and perform it for Andrews herself.

I also left with a new desire, admittedly prurient, to see a movie called S.O.B. where Andrews flashes a bit of otherwise unseen skin…

The Boy With Tape On His Face is actually a man, Sam Wills, who does indeed have duct tape covering his mouth for the entirety of the performance. The stage is set with cardboard boxes filled with various props and other larger pieces, such as a garbage can mounted on a pole. He enacts a series of scenes, often using members of the audience brought up on stage, each of which end in a non-verbal punch line. The majority of these scenes have a simple core concept but are drawn out, set up, and timed to music, so that the joke is hysterically funny when it lands. A part of Wills genius must be his ability to read an audience to pick the exact right people for each scene.

In one part where Wills brought a person up on stage the humour was the cringe-worthy kind where you can’t stop laughing even though you really want it to be over. Another, where he tried to teach four awkward men some simple dance moves, seemed to go on and on but still kept being funny. We laughed so hard at this show that my friend’s mascara was running, and I was glad I wasn’t wearing mascara.

If you come to see The Boy With Tape On His Face be prepared to be pulled onstage (if you’re really against it, get balcony seats.) And if you do end up onstage, be a good sport. You can trust that Wills has everything under control.


Photo of Sarah-Louise Young and Michael Roulston by Steve Ullathorne