The Drowsy Chaperone, TAOS at Tiverton New Hall

IF you can make it to Tiverton by the end of this week, by car, train or helicopter, for heaven’s sake do so or you will miss a treat.

One of the great mysteries of modern musical theatre is the lack of recognition granted to the (arguably) best and (by a distance) wittiest musical ever written, The Drowsy Chaperone – essentially a play with a musical within the play, about a fictional musical of the same title from the late 1920s, and an agoraphobic and slightly camp New Yorker’s admiration for same.

It’s hard to believe from that bald summary what an entertaining show The Drowsy Chaperone is.  The ingenious setup, daft plot and fantastic barnstorming big numbers combine to form a perfect pastiche of the Golden-Age Broadway musical; Man In Chair’s asides have never been bettered for wit or cynicism, and I’m astounded the writers of this show are not better known while far lesser talents are household names.

Unfortunately, when you love a script as much as I do this one and get to see a live production of it, there can be some risk of disappointment.

Fortunately, there is no risk of this at Tiverton.  TAOS’ production can hardly be faulted, other perhaps than on matters of very minor detail. Director Jo Wilson-Hunt has a firm hand on the reins and some of her directorial touches enhanced the show in quite unexpected ways; Hilary Wickham, as Musical Director, and her band did everything required of them.

Of the cast, Daniel Kilshaw as Man in Chair was utterly outstanding; it’s hard to see any way in which his timing, or his portrayal of a fairly complex character, could be bettered in the amateur or professional theatre.

Alice Wilson-Hunt, in the demanding female lead role, had a magnificent voice when I last saw her a couple of years ago and has since added maturity in terms of acting ability and stage presence.  Sarah Berry’s (Drowsy) Chaperone is another superb performance well worthy of a professional production.

Space constraints make it impossible to go all through the cast but suffice to say there was not a single weak link amongst the principals. Nor among the chorus, whose regular intrusions were  beautifully choreographed and immaculately executed.

If you can get to Tiverton to see this show, do. If not, try and get to see it somewhere else, or persuade your local OpSoc to put it on. If the result is even half as good as Tiverton’s, you will have a very enjoyable evening.



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