Drowsy Chaperone opens in Melbourne

Christie Whelan and company

Early feedback is good and reviews are expected to be strong for the Melbourne Theatre Company production of The Drowsy Chaperone, which opened last night at the Arts Centre Playhouse.

The production marks the show’s Australian premiere.

Directed by MTC Artistic Director Simon Phillips, this witty homage to the glittery stage shows of the 1920s will be fronted by the one and only Geoffrey Rush, who plays Broadway aficionado, ‘the Man in the Chair’. Remaining on stage throughout the production, ‘the Man in the Chair’ escapes his dreary days by playing – and replaying – a recording of a 1928 stage musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone.

Listening to the scratchy sounds of his hi-fi, the musical magically bursts to life on stage, as ‘the Man in the Chair’ tells the tale of a Broadway starlet Janet Van De Graaff (Christie Whelan) who wants to give up show business to get married, her producer Feldzieg (Shane Jacobson), who sets out to sabotage the nuptials, society wedding hostess Mrs Tottendale (Robyn Nevin), her butler Underling (Richard Piper), the debonair groom Robert Martin (Alex Rathgeber) and his best man George (Rohan Browne), the dizzy chorine Kitty (Heidi Arena), the Latin lover Aldolpho (Adam Murphy) and a pair of gangsters (Grant Piro and Karlis Zaid) who double as pastry chefs, the winged wedding celebrant Trix (Zahra Newman) and the eponymous Drowsy Chaperone (Rhonda Burchmore).

Adding to the general malarkey are Josh Piterman, Hester van der Vyver and Troy Sussman.

The Drowsy Chaperone received more Tony Awards than any other musical of the 2006 Broadway Season, including Best Book (Bob Martin & Don McKellar), Original Score (Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison), Costume Design (Gregg Barnes) and Scenic Design (David Gallo). The production was also awarded the 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical.

The show plays until February 20. Bookings: 1300 723 038

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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