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Review of The Drowsy Chaperone at Bridewell Theatre

The Drowsy Chaperone - Photo by David Ovenden
The Drowsy Chaperone – Photo by David Ovenden

It does what a musical is supposed to do. It takes you to another world.
Sit back, relax and enjoy a trip back to the years of flapper fashion, gangsters, and senseless musicals. The Drowsy Chaperone is a musical comedy that revives the frivolous, overly dramatic songs that will transport audiences to time without the luxury of television. Instead, we escape into our imaginations as we reminisce about this comical musical live on stage.

The Drowsy Chaperone begins with a man sitting at home alone, moping about in sadness for reasoning’s we soon discover later in the show. To lighten the mood, the man plays one of his favourite musical records from the late 1920s titled The Drowsy Chaperone. This show has everything: a beautiful star actress, a man in love, a mob out to kill and a chaperone who likes her vodka.

The special part of this production is that it knows its ridiculousness. Characters are over-the-top dramatic and beyond silly. Cheesy smiles, obvious posing for the audience – this musical is meant to be farcical. A production of this type needs a strong protagonist with one that the audience will have an emotional connection. Alex Baker as Man In Chair captured our attention through character empathy and witty musical knowledge. As the narrator of the musical, the Man In Chair tells his perception of what it would have been like to see this old musical live.

Having the unreliable narrator explain moments of the musical to the audience made the show more amusing. Never had the Man In Chair actually seen the production; therefore, we only saw how he perceived the production to have run. The brilliant actors performing in the musical were bold and almost cartoon-like as they performed their hit musical numbers. Janet van de Graaff’s (Corin Miller) song about putting a monkey on a pedestal was hilarious and Robert Martin’s (Angus Jacobs) tap dancing was excellent. The entire cast brought this silly musical to life in the most special way.

The Drowsy Chaperone may be categorised as an amateur level production, but it didn’t show. The quality of this production was fantastic and truly entertaining. For only an hour and forty-five minutes, get away from reality and join this musical in another world.

4 stars

Review by Aly Chromy

The award-winning musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone returns to London in May this year, in a new production by leading amateur theatre company Sedos.

The Drowsy Chaperone started in 1997, when Don McKellar, Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison and several friends created a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf. Their namesakes are the main love interest characters in the finished piece.

The Drowsy Chaperone tells the story of Man in Chair, who turns to his record collection as a cure for his “non-specific sadness”. As the musical plays, we are transported into the world of a 1920s musical where there are gangsters, mistaken identities and a wedding that may or may not happen.

The Drowsy Chaperone
3 – 13 May 2017
Bridewell Theatre
Bride Lane
London EC4Y 8EQ Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes, no interval

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