Hearing the words “I hate theatre,” isn’t something you’d expect during the opening minutes of a play.
But when it happened, I couldn’t help but think I might be in for a bumpy evening of performance theatre.
Nervously, I watched as the opening minutes of The Drowsy Chaperone continued.
Laden with irony, the main character of Man in Chair continues his monologue in his apartment on stage. He talks about the breaking of the fourth wall, all the while doing it himself. This opening monologue sets the tone for the play which both parodies and mocks the absurd enthusiasm of the iconic genre of 1920s comedic musicals.
As the audience is welcomed into the Man’s apartment, they are also invited into his musings and recollections of The Drowsy Chaperone, as the characters of the musical arrive onstage.
I was surprised when the plot of the musical began to unfold in front of the Man to create a metatheatrical play within a play.
The plot of this particular musical is a love story between an oil connoisseur and a Broadway star, and a pilot and her Latin lover.
Scott Jackson playing Robert, a groom with both the looks and brains of a Ken doll, along with his best man George, played by James Gibson-Bray, demonstrated a seemingly life-long knack for tap dancing in their number Cold Feets.
Sébastien Darcel-Sinclair’s characterization of the romancing Aldolpho carried a captivating animation reminiscent of a classic Disney villain, making him an audience favourite right from the start.
The talented women in the cast enforced the parodied style of the production through their humorous melodramatic acting.
This is showcased in the comedically punctuated number As We Stumble Along, a “rousing anthem about alcoholism,” performed by Hayley Goldenberg as title character The Chaperone. Kyle Holleran’s performance as Man in the Chair not only carries the production’s active momentum, but the majority of the comedic weight.
His interruptions to the musical and many ironic monologues about the theatre, such as a rant about cell phones in the audience, give way to an underlying appreciation of its joys.
I particularly enjoyed the three hilarious minutes he took to consume a granola bar in silence in lieu of an intermission.
The small studio space of the Baby Grand seemed unconventional for a musical, with the cast becoming slightly overpowered by the force of the live band. Eventually the marriage of the performers’ voices and the instrumentation creates intimacy in the production.
The Drowsy Chaperone does exactly what a musical is supposed to do — whisk you away and entertain you for an hour and a half.
Though the play begins with a hateful proclamation against theatre, this production will reveal its pleasures and ensure that if you weren’t a theatre fan before, you will become one soon enough.
Blue Canoe Productions’ The Drowsy Chaperone runs in the Baby Grand Theatre until Jan. 26.
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