The Drowsy Chaperone is one of those musicals I’d heard a lot about, but never actually seen until I bought a ticket to this production by Sedos at the Bridewell Theatre. It’s a relatively modern musical – it was first performed in 1998 – but it harks back to the 1920s golden age of Broadway, rather like 42nd Street does, but in a very different way. The show has a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.
An unnamed narrator (the ‘Man in the Chair’, brilliantly played here by Alex Baker) is alone in his flat suffering from an unspecified sadness. He decides to play his favourite record, a recording of the 1920s musical The Drowsy Chaperone, to cheer himself up. As he does so, the characters come to life all around him and perform the show in front of us.
Sedos is an amateur group, but their performances are usually of a very high standard, and this production was no exception. I was hugely impressed by all of the cast, especially Corin Miller and Angus Jacobs as the soon-to-be married couple. The sets, while simple, worked very well. The music was good and served as a warm pastiche of the musical styles of the 1920s, but the best bits were actually the narrator’s asides, as he commented on his favourite scenes and remarks on the histories of the performers.
Ultimately, The Drowsy Chaperone is a love letter to theatre, a show about the power of musicals which will resonate with anyone who loves them. I’m so glad I got the chance to see this show.