The Drowsy Chaperone – Edinburgh Fringe

The Drowsy Chaperone is a homage to musical lovers; we follow the Man in Chair as he narrates the backstories to his favourite stars through an old record playing.

It was interesting that director Laura Jordan Reed permitted Derek Ward, as The Man In Chair, to play the part with an English accent, considering the part is littered with Americanisms. Claire Maclean, as Janet Van De Graaff, had a beautiful higher register, however her voice lacked the belting power the role requires. Janice Bruce, playing both the Drowsy Chaperone and choreographer of this production, has done a fantastic job; the dance numbers were lively, and her interpretation of this fantastic role was suitably boozy. On a similar note, Darren Johnson as Robert Martin excelled in the role, his singing and dancing excelling.

What let this production down the most were directorial choices; this is clearest in the editing of the show. Whilst Reed chose to eradicate some scenes in the show, such as the superintendent scene which falls towards the end of the show and the encore to “Show Off”, she chose to keep in the questionable “Message From A Nightingale”, in which the cast return to stage in what is essentially yellow-face. In a professional production, this number comes across as a scathing and ironic take on the casual racism of hollywood in the Vaudeville era. However, it must be handled with care, or cut entirely, as many amateur productions choose to do. I would perhaps be more accepting of Reed’s choice to keep it in had she not cut other scenes and numbers that would have added comic value to the show over offence.

Whilst some actors pulled off a decent performance, it felt like they could have done so much more if better choices had been made.

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Sally MacAlister

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