Review: The Drowsy Chaperone, Appeal Theatre Group, New Wolsey Theatre, to June 27

The Man in Chair (Darren Nunn) and Drowsy (Jo Whelton) in Appeal Theatre Group show The Drowsy Chape

The Man in Chair (Darren Nunn) and Drowsy (Jo Whelton) in Appeal Theatre Group show The Drowsy Chaperone at The New Wolsey, Ipswich, June 24-27. - Credit: Archant

I’m not a fan of farce but there was lots to like about this musical comedy.

Mrs Tottendale (Samantha Harvey) with Underling the Butler (Patrick Price) in Appeal Theatre Group s

Mrs Tottendale (Samantha Harvey) with Underling the Butler (Patrick Price) in Appeal Theatre Group show The Drowsy Chaperone at The New Wolsey, Ipswich, June 24-27. - Credit: Archant

Mousy, agoraphobic Broadway fanatic Man in Chair plays a rare recording of the fictional 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone.

Cue the madcap misadventures of a doubt-plagued bride and groom, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, gangsters, a ditsy chorus girl, a misguided Latin lothario and the titular chaperone.

With tongue firmly in cheek, it’s a charming spoof full of silly songs and some surreal set-pieces; Brides Lament in particular.

I applaud theatre groups who try something new and this was a ambitious undertaking for the all-amateur cast.

It wasn’t perfect. Some scenes worked better than others and a lighter touch would’ve resulted in bigger laughs sometimes. There were timing problems during some of the dance numbers, occasional pitch issues and wandering accents but that’s first night nerves.

The staging was clever, I’ve never seen a simple record player used to such great effect. It was almost a character in its own right.

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Darren Nunn as The Man in Chair was magnificent; his understated performance was both funny and heart-breakingly poignant.

Michelle Poutney-Langham, bride to be Janet Van de Graaff, had a great voice and Show Off was my favourite number of the night. Jo Whelton, as the Chaperone, and Patrick Price, as butler Underling, were great too. All in all, a good show.

Click here to go behind the scenes with director John Whelton.

Wayne Savage

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