Left – Fiona DeLaine and Brady Lloyd
The award-winning Hills Musical Company has come up with another winner! From behind the somewhat pedestrian and uninspiring title, The Drowsy Chaperone – a Musical within a Comedy – bursts a fabulous show full of fun, laughs, and straight out entertainment. And this SA premiere production is brilliant.
The Musical itself is full of delightful silliness, as it sends up other musicals, vaudeville, burlesque and even Gilbert and Sullivan. It is set in the 1920's, so it has all the potential for spoofing such genres. It "freezes" every time the present day Play which contains it checks in with commentary or explanation, and the whole is a totally fun, rich and enjoyable package.
In the hands, feet and voices of this talented company, it is very effectively brought to life under the fine direction of David Sinclair. The spectacular choreography of Linda Williams is extremely competently executed by the whole cast, and Musical Director Mark DeLaine coordinates the singers and the very well balanced and tuned orchestra in the pit with skill and sensitivity.
Real accolades must go to Scott Nell as Man in Chair, who not only holds the whole show together, but links audience with stage with consummate skill and enthusiasm. One would have to be more than drowsy not to respond to him at a personal level, as he guides the audience through the Musical's delicious absurdities, with charming commentary and explanation.
Other standouts in this fine cast include Brady Lloyd, with his expressive face, nice voice and fleet feet as Robert Martin (he not only sings and acts, but also taps and skates); paired neatly with Lindsay Prodea (another good voice and expressive face), as George. Their tap routine together would challenge Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire! Fiona DeLaine is a first rate Janet Van De Graaff, showing considerable talent at both singing and dancing, while the husky voiced Bronwen James as The Drowsy (and drunk) Chaperone, and the huge Jamie Richards as Adolpho rise beautifully to grasp the opportunity given by this crazy plot to over act with aplomb! Wendy Rayner is in her element as the flamboyant and scatty Mrs Tottendale, neatly paired with Greg Beer as Underling.
Mention must be made of the backstage work with the fine sets by Craig Williams, which provide more variety and simple changes than one could possibly expect to see on this stage, which is not over endowed with wings space.
The HMC has pulled off a coup in presenting this as an SA Premiere, and any awards that result will be more than earned. Bravo!
Hills Musical Company presents
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre
Dates: November 9 – 24, 2012