Drowsy Chaperone, The
The Drowsy Chaperone. Musical, book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. The Drowsy Chaperone made its debut in 1998 as a unique wedding present for Bob Martin and his bride, Janet Van De Graaff. What followed launched this dreamy, escapist play-within-a-play into Canadian musical theatre history. After a sold-out run at the 1999 Toronto Fringe Festival, the expanded Chaperone opened at The Marquis Theatre on Broadway 1 May 2006. Playing to packed houses for 647 performances, the American production (directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw) earned solid accolades from New York critics. In his review of 2 May 2006, Variety's David Rooney wrote, "Via its endearing onstage host, The Drowsy Chaperone extends a warm embrace to every show queen and misfit theatre geek who ever escaped ... into the cocooning fantasy world of a musical." After receiving a record number of nominations, The Drowsy Chaperone won five Tony awards, including the awards for best book of a musical and best original score.
The charm of The Drowsy Chaperone lies in its conceit of a lonely musical theatre devotee dreaming of Broadway. As "the man in a chair" dusts off his favourite old vinyl recordings of forgotten 1920s musicals, his dreary apartment is invaded by a high-kicking, tap-dancing chorus who sing their way through a sentimental story set amid the glittery and familiar trappings of a bygone theatrical age.
Following its stunning success in the United States, The Drowsy Chaperone opened 6 June 2007 at the Novello Theatre in London's West End. Initially scheduled to run until February 2008, the show closed 4 August 2007. However, as Kamal Al-Solaylee of the Globe and Mail noted 6 August 2007, this cooler British response was but a "bump in the amazing journey of The Drowsy Chaperone." The Drowsy Chaperone made a triumphant return to Toronto's Elgin Theatre 19 September 2007, the first stop of an international tour. In 2008, it received a Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding touring production.