The Drowsy Chaperone
2nd June 2012
Library Theatre, Luton
Type of Production
Author: Nova Horley
It was a great privilege to be part of the 60th Anniversary celebrations for St Andrew’s Players, and a very fitting production. A good cast, good production, and a very funny show.
Frances Hall is an insightful Director – and saw beyond what is a rather tenuous tale. There were some excellent directorial touches, which helped make the show a pleasure to watch.
Despite the story being very frothy it all made sense somehow, and many of the observations from the Man in Chair were so true and would have struck a chord with any self-respecting theatre goer!
The lighting was good, nice design from Dave Houghton that enhanced the action.
I was a little disappointed with the set – however, I liked the cast moving the props and setting up the many and various scenes without any interruption to the action, it meant the whole show flowed well, and the pace was kept up throughout.
Beth Thomas is a first-class MD, the band sounded harmonious, and the music was, in the main, well-sung, with some nice nuances to some lovely numbers.
For me there was one real stand-out performance, which was Steve Peters as Man in Chair. As the narrator/story teller it was his job to both set and link the scenes, he was so marvellously expressive, whilst remaining this rather odd, nerdy character. Beautifully constructed characterisation, which made even the most strange references interesting! He managed to combine the nerdy type with a twinkle in his eye, and whilst the portrayal was low key it never lost expression and interest, a feat in itself – I was very impressed.
The second excellent performance was Joanna Yirrell as Janet Van De Graaff – she even managed to make the Bride’s Lament both interesting and weirdly realistic. Jo looked elegant and lovely, whilst delivering some very strange lines with great meaning, including a very strong musical number whilst singing about a monkey on a pedestal. I also liked the Show Off number, the gradual unravelling of her dress to several different incarnations was very well done.
Sarah Albert as Kitty the ditzy blonde, pulled out a good comic performance as usual, which contrasted well with that of Jo.
James Driver was a very debonair Robert Martin, Janet’s fiancé, very ‘matinee idol’ – he looked really something in his wedding outfit, and the character was nicely achieved. A good foil for Janet.
I thought the choreography had some nice touches. Jo Harris is a new name to me and I liked what she did in terms of interpreting the mood and feel of the numbers. However, personally I felt that there were too many people on stage in the ‘chorus’ numbers.
I liked Andrew Alton as George, a small part, but he made an impact. He spoke very clearly and sang well, and looked the part.
I thought the comic partnership of Valerie Mills (Mrs Tottendale) and Keith Turton (Underling) was great fun – they played well off each other
A great surprise was Richard Cowling in a comedy role as Adolpho – good timing and some classic lines, a very different performance.
Jonny Mills and Dale Stacey as the pastry chef/gangsters were also a good duo. Andy Whalley’s ‘Feildzieg’ was a regular producer-type portrayal, which could have been a little larger, but contrasted well with Kitty.
Sharon Robinson took the Drowsy Chaperone role – which I felt was at times a little too drowsy, she needed to be more OTT at times to my mind. I particularly liked her number with Adolpho, she reacted well to him, and it was a strong scene.
Emma Storey as Trix the Aviatrix, again took a small role and played it to the hilt – a natural comic performer this part also gave Emma a chance to sing, and the music suited her voice particularly well.
John Bright completed the principal line-up in a small role as the Superintendent of the building.
Overall it was a good, fun show that had the audience laughing out loud, and left us on a high with a very definite ‘feel good’ factor. If you missed it, then you missed a great experience!