The Drowsy Chaperone

 The Drowsy Chaperone: The Shelley Theatre, Boscombe. (5th April, 2017)

What a brave move for Theatre 2000 to take on this deceptively complex and deftly funny show within a show! The result on stage at the Shelley Theatre is a laugh-a-minute musical that, while it may not quite match the slickness of the award-winning productions that have wowed Broadway and the West End, certainly has a damn good try.

Within this clever and clearly exhaustively rehearsed show there are many stand-out moments. There is also a live band which is always a boost.

A talented cast under the guidance of director and choreographer Angie Broomfield tackle this witty farce, that originally started life as a stag party spoof in Canada 20 years ago, with considerable aplomb.

Mark Ponsford is excellent as the narrator - Man In Chair - a sweetly camp musical theatre nerd who cures his depression by playing the soundtrack of his favourite ever musical The Drowsy Chaperone. Along the way we get the potted biographies of the washed-up hack-actors on stage.

As Man in Chair guides the audience through this unlikely remixed recording from the 1920s, the crazy, clunky musical production that he loves comes to life in his apartment.

It finds young oil tycoon Robert Martin (Daniel Murrell) about to marry Broadway star Janet Van De Graaf (Georgina Smith) much to the distress of  big shot producer Feldzig who needs to keep her in his hit show. Otherwise the gangsters who are bankrolling the production are going to get extremely heavy.

With a couple of gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, a randy Latin lover, Janet’s booze-addled chaperone and a flamboyant aviatrix there is mirth and mayhem.  There is also not one but four weddings and mercifully no funerals.

Everyone rises to the occasion but the leading players are excellent and special mention should go to Tracy Taylor-Jenkins as the Drowsy Chaperone of the title.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2021