Elaine Paige made her long-awaited West End return last night (6 June 2007, previews from 14 May) in the UK premiere of Broadway hit The Drowsy Chaperone at the Novello Theatre (See Also Today’s Review Round-up & 1st Night Photos). Alongside Canadian Bob Martin, who makes his London debut in the show he co-wrote, Paige returned to the West End stage after an absence of seven years.

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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.

The Drowsy Chaperone also features Summer Strallen, Nickolas Grace, John Partridge, Selina Chilton, Joseph Alessi, Anne Rogers, Nick Holder, Enyoman Gbesmete, Cameron Jack, Adam Stafford and Sean Kinglsey. It has music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Don McKellar and Martin. Broadway’s Casey Nicholaw, who made his West End debut with his choreography on Spamalot, both choreographs and directs.

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand at the Novello Theatre and at the post-show party at the Waldorf Hilton. Amongst our TV interviewees are Drowsy Chaperone cast members Elaine Paige, Bob Martin, Summer Strallen, John Partridge and Anne Rogers, director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw and other first night guests including Paul O’Grady and David Ian.

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, 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.

The musical 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. It’s presented in the West End by Kevin McCollum, Roy Miller, Bob Boyett, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman.

- by Jake Brunger