Brett Herriot Review

The Drowsy Chaperone, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh Review:

“A Comedy Musical Triumph!

**** 4 Stars

Local company Edinburgh Music Theatre mark there return to the stage after a 3 year pandemic gap with an inspired choice of production in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and the company deliver a comedy musical triumph.

For a piece set in 1928 it’s a modern show having originated in 1998 it went on to Tony award winning success in 2006, However the transfer to London wasn’t quite as successful running for less than 100 performances in 2007. It’s since gone on to be popular amongst local companies for its large cast of comedy characters.

With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Bob Morrison and book by Bob Morrison and Don McKellar, Drowsy Chaperone is a show with in a show and is a passionate play on the love of musical theatre. Focusing on the Narrator “Man In Chair” played by the utterly sublime  Ian Fallon he takes us into his new York apartment and explains his love of musical theatre and in particular the 1928 recording of the Drowsy Chaperone. Playing the record the show comes to life on stage before us with added observations, asides, comedic brilliance and on occasion truthful human emotion from the “Man in Chair”

This is a  production filled with comedy joy de verve,  Director Jo Heinemeier has succeeded in blurring the lines of the two worlds and created a joyous over arching performance from her talented cast aided by Ashleigh Le Cras’s big, bold and brashy Choreography that goes from Chorus line high kicks to tap dancing with equal aplomb.

EMT’s 25 strong cast deliver in spades but special mention must go to the Lead Ian Fallon, his ability to deliver comedy with pitch perfect timing is only outshone in the most emotional and human of scenes in act two as we realise whilst we can escape from feeling blue into the world of the musicals we must all come back to reality no matter how that reality hurts his performance is nothing short of west end worthy. The same is true of Andrew Hally’s over the top “Aldolpho” whilst pure vaudeville camp he delivers it with complete conviction.  In a remarkable feat Chloe Anderson took over the role of Janet Van De Graaff just a week prior to opening and my word did she deliver, a true credit to herself and the company.

Production wise the show almost equally delivers, Mathew McDiarmid’s Set design adds the right layers and space to shift easily between the two worlds of the apartment and the Chaperones theatre. George Cort’s lighting design is simply wonderful moving from intensely intimate moments to full on Busby Berkley Razzle dazzle that pops the eye and adds that magical quality to the show and ensures Lauren McAnna’s wardrobe selections sparkle.

The only real area lacking is sound, it’s just not where it needs to be,  during the musical numbers especially, Musical director Matthew Brown’s stellar 6 piece pit band simply over powers the entire company on stage making lyrics difficult to hear. There was a lot of popping during the first act, mic’s coming on late or too low even some audio from back stage made it through the audience.

EMT were shrewd in choosing the Drowsy Chaperone a true love letter to the theatre and their passion combined with talent ensured the audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation having got there monies worth.  

There are a few last minute tickets still remaining so pop along to the Church Hill for an evening of laughter, music and the dazzling talents of Edinburgh Music Theatre.

EMT Presents, the Drowsy Chaperone, Church Hill Theatre Edinburgh; Runs until Saturday 23rd April, for tickets go to: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5185889

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