Review by Jody Miller
Wyong Musical Theatre Group (WMTC) is an amateur community musical theatre group who produce a variety of musicals each year showcasing the talents of the Central Coast youth and adult performers, creatives and technical crew.
Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Original Score, The Drowsy Chaperone is a loving send-up of the Jazz Age musical, featuring one show-stopping song and dance number after another.
Wyong Musical Theare Company made the most of their event treating the audience to a wedding reception on arrival bringing you into the scene the second you arrived at the venue.
With the house lights down, a man in a chair appears on stage and puts on his favorite record: the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical. The recording comes to life and The Drowsy Chaperone begins as the man in the chair looks on. Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a misguided Don Juan and an intoxicated chaperone, and you have the ingredients for an evening of madcap delight.
Directed by WMTC President Julie Young who leads an enthusiastic cast of 22, The Drowsy Chaperone takes the audience on a madcap adventure back to the 1920s in Wyongs intimate theatre, leaving the audience full of joy and laughter.
Set designers Julie Young and Brett Perkins frame the scene with a cleverly converted refrigerator, LED Lights and multi coloured walls which convert us to multiple different locations as the story unfolds.
The show begins with the lovesome Duncan Mitchell as ‘Man in chair’ who hilariously narrates the show from his small New York apartment, introducing his favourite record ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ and watching as each cast member sings and dances their way on to the stage to introduce themselves and their role in the musical.
This is the first of many full company pieces in the show where we hear the musical and vocal direction of Rich Ferraro and Jess Ferraro who brought a full and rich sound from their 22 performers, becoming a deep and intrinsic part of this story.
The cast includes a beautifully diverse range of performers ranging from Sydney to Newcastle, being led by the talented Chauntelle O’Brien playing the prestigious Janet Van De Graaff. Chauntelle was predominant in each scene with a strong presence in the production proving powerhouse vocals and strength and certainty within the story.
Vocal Director Jess Ferraro doubles as The Drowsy Chaperone, a demanding character with captivating vocals who never misses a moment, showing the capacity to seamlessly transition between her own prerogative and chaperone duties.
David Ritchie and Darren George play supporting roles Robert and George as dapper men who share in a cleverly executed tap number. They both capture the audience with their ‘showman’ styled characters and simple outlook on life.
Crowd favorite was Steve Burchill who dons the stage for his first ever role as a flamboyant ‘Aldolpho’, leaving the audience in stitches as he navigates the madcap of this production, a concept that Burchill approaches impeccably.
Alongside these performers were experienced thespians Leah Proctor as Kitty, Mark Vangelatos as Mr Feldzieg, Margaret Holdom as Mrs Tottendale and Russell Bridge as Underling. All these performers were strong presences in the production who brought distinctive and fierce versions of the characters.
A notable mention goes to Felicity Joanne and Aaron Webb-Wilson who played Gangster 1 & 2. Both actors were a highlight within the production seamlessly flipping between characters adding value to each ensemble piece.
The ensemble consists of Chris King as the Superintendent, Jacinta Rose Burley as Trix, Jen Paterson, Kirra Stallard, Maddie Stephenson, Joanne Brearley, Craig Bailey, Tracy Pattison, Michael Adamson and Allyson Turner, a solid mix of performers juggling multiple roles and costumes moving fluently through the story, all contributing joyful qualities to the diverse range of characters.
The Drowsy Chaperone, the musical, is a hilarious, powerful and compelling story filled with musical parodies, theatre tropes … and a substantial serving of humor. Wyong Musical theatre Company provides a joyful production brought together by volunteers sharing the true joy of local theatre!
The Drowsy Chaperone is playing at The Grove Theatre Wyong, running till the 1st of April. Remaining tickets are limited and available at stagecenta.com/Showdetails.aspx?showid=8090