The Drowsy Chaperone – a self-professed musical within a comedy – likes to poke fun at itself. And sometimes that’s what musical theatre needs – something to send up the dramatic plotlines, the filler scenes, and unnecessarily long dance numbers. But we all still adore musical theatre, and this show reminds us why.
The performances in the show were incredibly strong, from exasperated George (Rebecca Waites) to enamoured Janet (Julia Weingaertner), to the Drowsy Chaperone herself (Niamh Higgins). Mrs Tottendale (Kirsten Millar) and Underling (Ewan Bruce) provide great comic relief during the ‘in between’ scenes, as do the pastry chefs (Kathryn Salmond and Matilda Botsford).
What really took the cake for me was every scene featuring Latin lover Adolpho (Sam Coade). He sashays about the stage as if he owns it- and he does. His scene with Higgins was perhaps the funniest in the show. Trix the Aviatrix (Caoilainn McGarry) is a gem at the end of the show, belting out the finale with beautiful gusto.
The singing – accompanied by live band – was impeccable, although the choreography left something to be desired. I was also saddened to see that Janet’s big number ‘Show Off’ does not seem to feature her showing off very much at all, but ‘Bride’s Lament’, which brings in the rousing second act, complete with the entire cast in monkey ears, more than makes up for it. While the minimal set did make it seem slightly school show-ish, the talent of the cast far outshines it, and the hard work of the entire company is apparent.
The only character not directly involved in the action of the story – the Man in Chair (Gordon Stackhouse) – also deserves hefty praise. I only wish he hadn’t been confined to his chair for the majority of the show, as Stackhouse’s portrayal provides a cynical but heartfelt commentary which we all find ourselves rattling off in our heads when watching musical theatre. If ever there is a moment the show seems to get too carried away, he grounds it immediatly, and keeps a great balance of snarkiness and vulnerability the whole way through.
For some jazzy song-and-dance numbers, quite a few laughs, and all the antics you’d expect from a comedy musical, The Drowsy Chaperone will gladly provide.