Tuesday, 1 April 2014
SQUABBALOGIC'S 'THE DROWSY CHAPERONE' dissected by me
I'll tell you why Squabbalogic's season of the musical 'The Drowsy Chaperone' is sold out.
1. It's a well-crafted contemporary take on the old style musicals that bridges both worlds so we can observe and participate as analyst and audience. We can see a sort of musical our great-grandparents might have enjoyed and look at it through the lens of today.
2. The role of the narrator (Jay James-Moody) perfectly captures the kind of Helen Reddy 'Angie Baby' story (minus the surreal vortex of a gentleman caller, unless the phone technician counts). Our Man in Chair is a character who, although cantankerous and unkempt, can live out a fantasy of the elusive happy ending that his real life is missing. He is our Greek Chorus, subverted into a singular role, representing us. Add to that, Jay James-Moody is one of the most watchable performers in musical theatre. He has exceptional comic timing, boundless energy and a great eye as director. He has stage presence aplenty.
3. The polished performance of the entire cast and the joy they exude in delivering every moment. This is a tightly directed and synchronised show and is contained in this tiny space.
4. The Hayes Theatre (formally the Darlinghurst Theatre) has been transformed in energy by the companies who have now taken residence. There is a hope and excitement in the air.
5. The design of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ by Lauren Peters is another highlight. I’ll admit that when I saw the design of a kitchen I had wondered if I was about to see ‘Masterchef: The Musical’ but when you can have characters enter through the refrigerator and the cupboards can be converted into a bed or the ironing board an aeroplane, you’ve won me over. It’s a clever design that allows for both worlds to collide and interact successfully.
6. The music and skill of the musicians is impressive. I am still humming ‘I don’t want to show off no more’, even though that concept is far from the truth. Well done to Paul Geddes and team.
7. The choreography. Monique Salle, when she’s not flying in to the scene, has produced a way to cover the entire stage with movement for fifteen people in a very tight space. Very impressive.
8. This may seem a strange thing to say because maybe it’s not true but there’s something about this ensemble that suggests that people get cast because of talent and appropriateness to role and not because you have cashed in the nepotism card. As a result, whether you’re brand new to the game or an experienced performer, everyone feels equal and invested in making their stamp on this show. No-one is being carried and you are there because you deserve to be.
9. Hilary Cole. As impressed as I was with her in ‘Carrie: The Musical’, she has backed that up with another sterling production as Janet Van de Graff.
10. The Toledo Surprise cocktail at the bar. I couldn’t drive for three days after I drank it, such was its potency. Well worth the $15, especially if you’re suffering from any form of chest infection.
I bet you wish you had tickets now. Next time it might be worth getting in early or hoping it extends because Squabbalogic is one of those companies where the material is as fresh as the team and the intention is always to give the audience, no matter how reluctant they are, the best arm chair experience of musical theatre you could want. Mission accomplished.