The cast of Shoreline Musical Theatre Society’s upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone rehearses downtown at RainCoast Creative Performing Arts in preparation for their run of shows at the Tidemark, Nov. 23, 24 and 25. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River troupe gets ambitious with classic Canadian musical of clichés

‘It’s clever and it has depth…or you can just take it at face value and let it just be good fun’

Back in 1997, a group of Canadian musical theatre actors decided to do something special for a couple of their friends who were about to be married.

So they wrote a fun little play and put it on at their friends’ stag party, thinking that would be the end of it.

But in 2006, that little musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, performed in a Toronto apartment almost a decade earlier, debuted on Broadway and went on to win five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards. It was then performed in Los Angeles, London and Melbourne. It has toured North America twice – not a small undertaking for a musical – and has even been translated and performed in Japan.

And later this month, The Drowsy Chaperone takes to the stage at the Tidemark Theatre courtesy of the Shoreline Musical Theatre Society, a troupe of local actors and musicians, for what director Heather Gordon Murphy says is possibly their most ambitious production to date.

The piece is built around a character simply called “Man in Chair” – although the character is sometimes played by a woman, as will be the case with the Shoreline performance. The character is a shut-in who is actually just listening to a musical soundtrack recording and imagining a stereotypical stage production from back in the heyday of musicals – the 1920s – which gets acted out by the performers while really only existing in the narrator’s mind.

What’s great about the show, Gordon Murphy says, it is that because the musical the narrator is imagining is, in itself, a stereotype of the genre, “the performers can just really take those clichés that everybody knows about in every musical and just take it way over the top, which makes it totally ridiculous, in the best possible way.”

One of her favourite aspects of the play is that it’s a true ensemble piece, giving every performer the opportunity to shine.

“There isn’t really a star,” she says. “There are all kinds of neat parts that people can really hook into and all the parts are interesting and have depth.”

But there’s also the music.

“It’s very hard music to play but we have such an amazing, brilliant trio that will be on stage – not in a pit – and so it’s gradiose but still intimate, and like everything else in the play, it’s way over the top, which makes it perfect for the play and super fun,” she says. “It’s really quite amazing, because it sounds like something you’ve heard before, but you haven’t.”

And while the play itself is built on cliché and stereotype, it’s also got layers – should you choose to look for them.

“It’s such a huge contrast between now and real life and the ridiculous, ridiculous things that are going on in a play which is set in the 20s, but yet it’s somehow also universal and characters we can all connect with,” Gordon Murphy says. “It’s clever and it has depth that you can explore, or you can just take it at face value and let it just be good fun.”

The show will take the Tidemark stage for three evening performances – Nov. 23, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. – and a matinee on the 25th at 2 p.m. Tickets for the show are only $30 and can be purchased at the Tidemark Box Office or online at tidemarktheatre.com

Just Posted

Habitat for Humanity North Island wants to keep momentum going

Organization asks City of Campbell River for more land to build homes for young families

28 townhouses on the way to 525 Dogwood

Council approves latest phase of development, but not before expressing traffic concerns

Diver discovers possible historic anchor off Campbell River

The rusted, barnacle-encrusted anchor was wedged into the bottom off Quadra Island… Continue reading

Leigh wants Strathcona Regional District budget amended over water rates

Area D Director cites punitive water rates as a reason to slow down process

Cold weather puts pressure on homeless shelters in Campbell River

Salvation Army and Sobering Centre offer a total of 40 beds

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read