"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Operatic Society at Brentwood Theatre
of course, Forbidden Broadway, and, my favourite, Songbook, by Monty
Norman [the "record" is on my shelves, man in the armchair,
is it on yours ?}. They're all more or less affectionate spoofs of
the great American musical. But none is as clever, or as spiritedly
witty, as The Drowsy Chaperone.
unique feature of this glorious pastiche is the framing device of a
Broadway anorak – a very recognizable type,
I'm sure I used to know this guy – sitting in his lonely
apartment with his spider plant and his record player. In Jacob
Allan's cheerfully camp production for Brentwood Operatic we have Ian
Southgate, scarcely middle-aged, but otherwise perfect as the
apologist for this 1920s froth. He helps with the plot, gives
footnotes on the stars, mouths the words, and gets more and more
involved in the cheesy routines. And along the way reveals a little
of his own life.
show – his first love, though he's never seen it live, is this
delicious confection, whipped up to a traditional recipe. You'll
recognize the ingredients: mistaken
identities, dream sequences, spit takes, a Broadway impresario and
his Follies, a suave British butler, comic gangsters, an airhead
chorus girl. He plays the LP, a gift from his mother, and the performance comes to
life before our eyes, right there in his room.
performers successfully recreated the feel and the falseness of the
genre. The Chaperone herself, glass in hand, wearing the second worst
wig, was perfectly embodied by Nina Jerram – her rousing anthem to
alcoholism a highlight of a constantly delightful production. The
bride and groom were Juliet Thomas and Samuel Cousins – his dance
duo with Best Man Dan Glock was impressively done. Amongst many other
memorable creations, space only to mention the unlikely pairing of
Mandi Threadgold-Smith and Jordon Cox as the gangster pastrycooks,
Martin Harris as the Latin Lover, and Rebecca Toft outstanding in the
relatively small role of the Aviatrix. The MD was Jonathan Sands.
never quite forget that this is a show in one geek's mind. His
kitchen cupboard conceals props, his bed is pressed into service, his
LP skips a groove and a power cut spoils the climax. "I should
start again from the beginning …" he muses. And such was the
feel-good magic of the piece and the production [the absence of a tap
routine the only disappointment], we'd have been quite happy for him
to do just that...