Cast members with Phoenix Theatre’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone, on through Nov. 24 at UVic, provide plenty of entertainment. Photo by Dean Kalyan

REVIEW: Chase away the November blues at The Phoenix Theatre

Guest director Jacques Lemay and The Drowsy Chaperone offer breezy fun at UVic

Sheila Martindale

Monday Magazine contributor

Sometimes you just want to forget about politics, the state of the environment and other troublesome daily matters, and sit back to enjoy a bit of silly fluff.

If this is your state of mind, The Drowsy Chaperone at the University of Victoria Phoenix Theatre is exactly what you need. With minimal plot, unlikely romantic situations and dynamic singing and dancing, this musical play is just the ticket to chase away the November blues.

Bryan Kenney’s set is clever, starting with a tiny apartment kitchen, which folds away to reveal a spacious hotel interior where most of the action takes place. Graham McMonagle’s costumes are very 1920s and a bit over the top – exactly right for the tone of the piece. Nancy Curry must be commended for her splendid music direction, while Jacques Lemay is the overall director and choreographer. Kudos to all.

Douglas Peerless is the Man in the Chair, or the Narrator, and he is irrepressibly enthusiastic and very cute. The large cast acts as one unit, with impeccable timing and the ability to ‘freeze’ at a moment’s notice. It is also everyone’s opportunity to be over-dramatic, melodramatic or an absolute ham, essential to all drama students but never really allowed out under normal circumstances.

For anyone unfamiliar with Phoenix Theatre, the training ground for future theatre personnel: they put on really professional shows at a very low cost, with students learning all aspects of theatre production.

The two beautiful venues, with a regular stage or theatre-in-the-round options, have seats where there is actually room for your legs and which are easy to get in and out of. The front of house is also well-staffed, with bright and cheerful people, not only handing out programs and helping you to find your seats, but also assisting with coats, hats and umbrellas – other theatres in the city – take note!

Anyway, back to The Drowsy Chaperone. It runs at UVic until Nov. 24. Call 250-721-8000 for tickets and information or visit them online.

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