A parody of 1920s romantic musicals, The Drowsy Chaperone begins with a modern-day musical theatre addict (Martin) who, to chase his blues away, drops the needle on his favourite LP, the 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone. From the crackle of his hi-fi, the musical bursts to life on stage, telling the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to get married, her producer who sets out to sabotage the nuptials, her chaperone (Paige), the debonair groom, the dizzy chorine, the Latin lover and a pair of gangsters who double as pastry chefs.
Strallen, who plays Janet van de Graaff, has been Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award nominated (Best Supporting Performance in a Musical and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, respectively) for her role as Maisie in last summer’s revival of another 1920s pastiche, Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend (pictured), at the Open Air Theatre. Her other West End musical credits include Guys and Dolls, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cats and Scrooge.
Grace, who will be the Underling, has been seen in the West End in The Guardsman, Life Support and Swell Party. His screen credits include Confetti, An Ideal Husband and Heat and Dust on film; and Robin or Sherwood, Casanova, Daniel Deronda, House of Cards and Brideshead Revisited, for which he was BAFTA nominated, on television.
Others so far confirmed for the West End cast of The Drowsy Chaperone are: John Partridge (Robert Martin), Selina Chilton (Kitty), Enyoman Gbesmete, Cameron Jack and Adam Stafford, as well as Nina French, Mark Goldthorp, Paul Iveson, Sherrie Pennington, Christopher Bennett, Vivienne Carlyle, Mark Dickinson and Lincoln Stone.
The Drowsy Chaperone has music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Don McKellar and Bob Martin. Broadway’s Casey Nicholaw, who made his West End debut with his choreography on Spamalot, both choreographs and directs. The production is designed by David Gallo, with costumes by Gregg Barnes, and lighting by Ken Billington and Brian Monahan, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, orchestrations by Larry Blank and dance and incidental music arrangements by Glen Kelly.
The show, which started life in 1998 as a sketch for a stag do in Toronto, opened at the Marquis Theatre in New York in May last year and won five 2006 Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Score, seven Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, four Outer Critics’ Circle Awards including Outstanding Score and the Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical. It’s produced in the West End by Kevin McCollum, Roy Miller, Boyett Ostar, Stephanie McClelland and Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman.
- by Terri Paddock