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The Drowsy Chaperone Review

May 24, 2013

The funny thing about satire is, it’s deadly serious business. If spoof is your schtick, you have to be pretty darn good. (Not necessarily as good as the stuff you’re poking fun at, but the closer, the better.) It’s a pressure-packed pursuit. Tongue-in-cheek is not for the meek.

What impressed me most about The Drowsy Chaperone is simply this: It works. The script is witty, the music and lyrics engaging, the dancing lively and energetic, the acting delightfully over-the-top.

There is also the fact that the writers (Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Bob Martin, Don McKellar) have the confidence to state their objectives up front and invite us to judge them on those terms, on the traditional Broadway musical as they have defined it.

Does the show take us to a different world? Will it put a spring in our step and a tune in our head? Can it chase away the blues? The answer to all of those questions is: yes.

The Globe Theatre production, directed by Robb Paterson, with choreography by Stephanie Graham, is a triumphant conclusion to a successful season on the Main Stage.

The costumes, designed by Bonnie Deakin, have an eye-candy appeal that is a staple of the genre, the set and props (Brian Perchaluk) bring a sense of extravaganza to what is actually a small space, and the lighting (Scott Henderson) runs the gamut from subtle to flashy-and-splashy.

Did I mention the live orchestra? Music director Hart Godden is at the keyboards, with Keiran Semple on percussion, Miles Newman on trumpet and (depending on which performance you attend) Chris Jacklin or Karen Finsson on saxophone.

While this is technically an ensemble piece, the writing is so generous that it gives all 13 members of the cast an opportunity to shine brightly as individuals.

Greg Campbell, in the role of Man in Chair, serves as our narrator, an elderly gentlemen who creates the show-within-the-show by playing for us a recorded version of a Broadway musical from the late 1920s.

The story takes us to the stately residence of one Mrs. Tottendale (Michelle Fisk), who, assisted by her stiff-upper-lip butler, Underling (Kevin Rothery), is playing host to the wedding of Robert (Tim Gledhill), who is the son of an industrialist, and Janet (Lindsay Croxall), a leading lady who is somewhat reluctantly retiring from the stage.

Managing the wedding as best man is a Type A personality named George (Stirling Karlsen) and in order that the bride and groom not jinx themselves by seeing one another before the ceremony, the Drowsy Chaperone (Jennifer Lyon) agrees to supervise the former.

Believe it or not, complications arise. As producer of Janet’s shows, Feldzeig (Murray Furrow) isn’t thrilled about losing his star attraction, even though he has the vacuous Kitty (Diana Coatsworth) waiting in the wings. Aldolpho (Vince Staltari) is recruited to seduce the bride, at which point mistaken identity rears its ugly head, if you can imagine that.

I’ll let you discover the rest for yourself, but I can tell you this much: There are a couple of gangsters (Duff Macdonald, Scott Perrie) in the show, and also, it goes without saying, an aviatrix (Jenni Burke).

In a recent conversation, Stephanie Graham, the choreographer, described The Drowsy Chaperone to me as “hilariously silly.” Having now seen the show myself, I couldn’t agree more. Well done!

The Drowsy Chaperone runs from May 22 – June 9, 2013. Visit the Globe Theatre website for more details, cast information, and to purchase tickets.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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