For seven summers I’ve performed in the orchestra for the Bard 2 Broadway Society in Oceanside, the last four as the company’s musical director. The B2B organization is a dedicated group of talented folks who’ve been performing their productions in the Parksville/Qualicum area for 13 seasons.
The first shows I played for B2B were held in a large tent in downtown Qualicum Beach. Rainy nights could be challenging. During some performances, leaks in the tent fabric above the orchestra pit had me spreading a plastic sheet over my digital piano wondering if I could be electrocuted at any moment.
When the tent finally succumbed to the ravages of time and weather, the company moved indoors, first to the Parksville Civic Centre for several seasons, returning three years ago to Qualicum’s Village Theatre.
Just over a year ago, B2B’s vocal director Hilary Whelton mentioned to me she’d seen a Broadway Show called The Drowsy Chaperone while on a visit to New York and wanted to do it.
I’d never heard of the show so I googled uTube and viewed most of the production’s musical numbers online. Then I read in the Victoria Colonist that a local theatre group was performing The Drowsy Chaperone in the capital city. I drove down to catch a matinee performance and found the show an absolute hoot. I jumped at the chance to do it this summer with Bard 2 Broadway in Qualicum.
PHOTO - I direct The Drowsy Chaperone band backstage by watching the actors on a television screen set next to my keyboard. We all stay in time using earphones. Playing with me are six superb musicians: Larry Miller (Flute/Clarinet/Alto Sax), Rob Alsop (Flute/Clarinet/Alto Sax), Darren Nilsson(Trombone), Michael Irvin (Trumpet), Andrew Cullen (Bass) and Michael Wright (Drums).
At this writing we are halfway through the run and the show has been selling out on a nightly basis so I encourage you to book tickets in advance by phoning 250-752-4470. Shows remaining for The Drowsy Chaperone are: July 30, 31, Aug 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 & 17. Remaining in repertory, other B2B plays this season include Sexy Laundry and Little Woman. Check www.b2btheatre.com for dates. All shows 7:30 pm except Sunday matinees at 2 pm.
The Drowsy Chaperone - Review by Neil Horner (Parksville/Qualicum News)
There was nobody even close to nodding off Thursday night when Bard to Broadway presented their production of the multiple Tony Award-winning play, The Drowsy Chaperone.
There’s a good reason for that. The action on stage at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach was far too entertaining and the laughter was far too loud — not to mention the furious applause after many of the numbers.
It’s tough to pick a highlight from this thoroughly entertaining show. Was it Adolpho, the romantic buffoon, ably played by Rob Atkinson? Quite possibly, if you listen to the chatter from the crowd during intermission.
But Jessica Atkinson absolutely sparkled as Janet Van De Graaff and Marilyn Holt was no slouch either in her role as the Drowsy Chaperone. Then again, Rhyan Cayen as Trix the Aviatrix, Paul Churchill as Underling and Jenny Atkinson as Mrs. Tottendale all played their supporting roles with flair and Bard to Broadway veteran Gary Brown carried the show in fine form as the man in the chair.
In fact, there were no weaklings in the cast at all, from the pastry chef/gangsters to the chorus girls.
Speaking of the chorus girls, the dance numbers were a delight. In the case of the routine Don’t Want to Show off No More, it was acrobatic and an accident waiting to happen, bordering on dangerous. Bravo! Was this an opening night? You wouldn’t know it.
The costumes were great, the staging was fine, but what’s really important is the laughter. I’ve been to some comedies that didn’t elicit a smirk or a grin, but The Drowsy Chaperone was not one of these. I laughed long, loud and often — as did the rest of the packed house. At the closing curtain, the audience gave the cast a standing ovation that was richly deserved.
It’s unfortunate that the human anatomy only allows me to give this show two thumbs up, but I can assure you they are way, way up. If you want an evening of top-flight and some serious belly laughs, snatch up some tickets to this show. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. What fun!