MPO to stage rarely performed Broadway hit

MILBORNE Port Opera has chosen a show that won five Tonys and seven Drama Desk Awards on Broadway, but is rarely performed in this country. So audiences are in for a treat when the company stages the Canadian musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, at Milborne Port village hall from 3rd to 6th April.

Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison’s show, with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, is a send-up of 1920s Hollywood musicals, with a delightfully implausible plot and equally implausible characters. It made its debut in Toronto in 1998 and went on to enjoy runs in Los Angeles in 2005 and on Broadway in 2006. It was nominated for numerous awards on Broadway and in the West End.

The framing device is a middle-aged, anti-social and somewhat depressed musical theatre fan, in his apartment, deciding to play an LP of his favourite musical, the fictional 1928 show The Drowsy Chaperone. As the record plays, the show – a parody of 1920s American musical comedy – comes to life onstage, as the man wryly comments on the music, story and actors.

The story is set on a wedding day and the Drowsy Chaperone of the title (“drowsy” is an American euphemism for drunk) has the obviously hopeless job of keeping the bride, a Broadway star who is giving up fame and the footlights to get married, away from her oil tycoon bridegroom.

The star’s producer, Mr Feldzieg (no relation to the famous Zeigfeld!) is hell-bent on preventing the wedding, as he will be bankrupted with the loss of his biggest star. Several jovial gangsters, disguised as pastry chefs, are also trying to frustrate the match. They work for an anonymous third party, the biggest investor in the show. They intend to punish Feldzeig if he fails.

The cast is led by Jessie Stones as the Hollywood star, Janet Van Der Graaf, Oscar Shave-Smythies as Robert Martin, the bridegroom, Sukie Read as the Chaperone, Lloyd Davies as the Man in the Chair, and Richard Gaunt as Mr Feldzieg.

Other principal roles are the groom’s best man, George (Rachel Milestone-Mcadorey), a Latin lothario, Adolpho (Matt Baker), and a wanabee Broadway star, Kitty (Esmee Roach).

This is the second show for director Karen Pankhurst, following last year’s Everything Goes. The musical director is Caroline D’Cruz.


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