Hello. How are we today? A little quiet? I’m feeling a little blue myself. You know, a little anxious for no particular reason. A little sad that I should feel anxious at this age. You know, a little self-conscious anxiety resulting in non-specific sadness. A state that I call blue. Anyway, whenever I’m feeling this way – blue – I like to listen to my music. So I was going through my box of records this morning (yes records) and what did I find, but one of my favourite shows, Gable & Stein’s The Drowsy Chaperone.
I’m going to try to make this as understandable as possible, but my mind is a bit of a whirr at the moment. You see, I saw The Drowsy Chaperone this afternoon. And for any of you who have known me for a couple of years, it is a well-known fact that I positively love this musical. LOVE IT. Fell in love when I saw the performance of “Show Off” on the Tonys last year, got the soundtrack immediately afterwards, and well, you can imagine the rest of the story.
Basic plot – Man in Chair is feeling a little blue and gloomy one day, so pulls out a record (yes record) of his favourite musical from the 1920’s, The Drowsy Chaperone, and leads the audience through the show song by song, pausing the music occassionally to make a couple of comments about the actors performing the characters in the show. (Not the real actors, but the actors that the real actors are playing.) The Drowsy Chaperone (the musical within the musical) is a story about a wedding – an actress is going to end her career to marry a man she met shortly before, and all sorts of crazy capers ensue. Or, as Man in Chair says, “Mixups, mayhem and a gay wedding! Of course, the phrase ‘gay wedding’ has a different meaning now, but back then it just meant fun! And that’s exactly what this show is – fun!”
I have to say that I expected to love this. It surpased all expectations. In an extreme sort of manner. Best play I’ve seen this year. Possibly favourite musical I’ve seen ever. It was so much funnier on stage than I had thought it was going to be. And the dancing and music – ah, the music!
I got to see the original Man in Chair (Bob Martin) and Mrs. Tottendale (Georgia Engel), which was positively LOVELY. I cannot imagine anyone else as Mrs. Tottendale, and she is by far my favourite character in the show, so that was such a treat. As far as Man in Chair… well, Bob Martin was brilliant! I hear Jonathan Crombie is doing Man in Chair once it goes on tour, which would’ve been fun to see (hello, Gilbert?) but… I’m so happy I got to see Bob Martin in the role. He certainly lived up to my hopes from what I heard on the soundtrack and what I saw on the Tonys performance.
I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t enjoy Andrea Chamberlain as much as I love Sutton Foster on the soundtrack (oh, how amazing would it be to actually see Sutton Foster in the role!) but Chamberlain did a fabulous job. I even have to say that I enjoyed Kitty much more than I do on the soundtrack (she is my least favourite character, and I quite liked her in the performance).
The whole cast was amazing though. As I said previously, Man in Chair pauses the record occassionally to make comments, and the cast always freezes in whatever position they were previously in. At another point, the record starts skipping, and it was just so amusing to see the cast do the same litle bit of a song and dance repeated over and over and over.
The only things I was slightly disappointed in were the fact that one of my favourite songs on the soundtrack (“I Remember Love”) wasn’t in the show, and the fact that a good portion of the theatre was empty. We had a hard time getting three tickets together, yet there were groups of three or four seats together that were just empty. Seriously sad.
So yes, this was such a positively wonderfully fantastically brilliant afternoon, and the show was so brilliant, and I wanted to watch it again from the beginning as soon as it was over. If you get the chance to see this, DO. Do not think about it – buy tickets immediately. Because it is That Good. And I’m going to be listening to the soundtrack for the next few weeks straight and driving everyone completely batty, no doubt. But oh, the fun!
Oh I love it so much. I know it’s not a perfect show. The spit-take scene is lame, and the monkey motif is laboured. But it does what a musical is supposed to do. It takes you to another world, and it gives you a little tune to carry with you in your head for when you’re feeling blue, ya know?