A parody of 1920s romantic musicals, The Drowsy Chaperone begins with a modern-day musical theatre addict (Bob 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.
In addition to Paige and Martin, the London cast features features Summer Strallen, Nickolas Grace, John Partridge, Selina Chilton, Joseph Alessi, Anne Rogers, Nick Holder, Enyoman Gbesmete, Cameron Jack, Adam Stafford and Sean Kinglsey. The show has music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Don McKellar and Martin.
The Drowsy Chaperone, 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. The UK premiere production reunites the Broadway creative team led by director-choreographer Casey Nicholas and designer David Gallo.
Whilst one overnight critic thought it lacked “the pinpoint accuracy of true satire”, others agreed that The Drowsy Chaperone is amusingly “fresh” entertainment that only the “self-importantly serious and the chronically depressed” would fail to enjoy. Of the performances, critics welcomed back the “big chesty voice” of Paige, while also praising the “stellar” turn from Summer Strallen as the starlet and bride-to-be Janet Van de Graaff and show co-creator and original Broadway star Bob Martin as the Man in Chair.
- by Jake Brunger