June 21, 2012
The Pond Playhouse, Halifax
A capacity crowd took in the fun and frolic at The Pond Playhouse in Halifax this past Thursday night, as The Drowsy Chaperone kicked-off its 2-1/2 week run with the promise of ‘Mix-Ups, Mayhem and a Gay Wedding.’
Sure enough, laughter filled the petite Purcells Cove theatre for most of the 100 minute production, thanks to a solid script and a strong cast.
And while community-based theatre isn’t Broadway by any stretch of the imagination, the Theatre Arts Guild chose well with the campy Chaperone – the multi-award winning tale of wedding bells gone awry - making the most of its modest modus operandi and bringing out the best in its volunteer players.
Indeed, there is a lot to love about this ‘sprightly little show’; the charismatic Karen Myatt shines as Janet Van De Graaff, the sultry 20’s-era starlet (fans will want to check Myatt out at the Chester Playhouse next month); Brian Hart’s vocals paired well as her flaky fiancé (love the hair, and the ‘deer-caught-in-the-headlights’ glare!); the on-stage antics between hostess Mrs. Tottendale (played by Jolene Pattison) and her butler Underling (Jonathan Tyson) went over very well with attendees, as did the magic moments between cigar-chomping producer Feldzeig (Mike Chandler) and the cute-and-clueless Kitty the chorus girl (performed by promising upstart Lyndsay Anderson). Shawn Jolemore played-up his role as the over-the-top Latin-Lover Adolpho, as did the two leggy gangsters (Valerie MacKenzie, Margaret Champion), and the audience responded in-kind.
As expected, the show was not without its weaker links; more could have been done with props, set design and stage lighting, and the play’s pacing (particularly the musical accompaniment) proved to be inconsistent at times ~ likely a case of opening-night jitters, however.
Still, kudos should go to narrator Sherri Bezanson for her quirky and well-timed quips that pushed the production forward, keeping it fresh and fluid for theatre-goers.
Ultimately, it is the essence of community-based theatre – the shared esprit and elan of actors and audience – that brings The Drowsy Chaperone to life and makes it a spirited and stylish soiree for those looking for a light night out on the town. ~ SPC
The Drowsy Chaperone until July 8www.tagtheatre.com