This light-hearted, Tony Award winning musical pokes fun at many of the common tropes of old-style musical theatre, such as clean-cut men, divas, gangsters, and madcap mix-ups, as lovers fall in and out of love on the eve of their wedding day.
Such was the professionalism and dynamic performances of this high-energy young ensemble, it was hard to believe that they were still only in Years 9–10.
Director, Ginnie Thorner says the students rose to the challenge and worked incredibly hard together. “This young cast had to learn challenging music, comic timing, and some show stoppers of more than five minutes in duration. They found new ways to be creative, learnt new skills, and formed some strong friendships as they did an incredible job of bringing the story to life.”
The musical revolved around the Man, brilliantly portrayed by Thomas Kamo (Year 9), an agoraphobic Broadway fanatic, who listens to a recording of the fictional 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone in his dingy apartment. As he listens, the characters appear, and his apartment is transformed into an exciting Broadway set. The Man provides commentary throughout the show, revealing aspects of his personal life, and commenting on some of the serious issues raised in the show, such as the whitewashing of characters of colour, and old cultural traditions found in musicals such as The King and I.
A sparkling opening number, Fancy Dress, provided the premise for the show, and introduced the characters, who were preparing for the wedding of oil tycoon Robert Martin (played confidently by Jack Calder, Year 10) and Janet Van De Graaff, a popular Broadway star, about to give up her career for married life (beautifully played by Estee Wilke, Year 9).
In attendance was ageing hostess Mrs Tottendale (an assured Grace Lawrence, Year 9), and her loyal employee, Underling (Harry Withers, Year 9), who was a great sport when enduring not one, but three or four spit gags throughout the show. Janet’s Broadway producer Mr Feldzieg (played convincingly by Lucca Ballara, Year 10) was under pressure to stop her marrying from two gangsters disguised as pastry chefs (Ashton Menzies and Couper Killick, both Year 9) who relished their roles. Another actress, the kooky Kitty (portrayed in effervescent fashion by Catelin Riordan, Year 10) was determined to take Janet’s place.
Other main characters included the perpetually tiddly Drowsy, Janet’s chaperone, played by Madeline Bailey (Year 10), whose amazing performance of As We Stumble Along, was one of the highlights of the show, and Aldolpho, a self-proclaimed, famed Latin Lover, who was played by the hilarious Charlie Moorhead (Year 10).
Other standout musical numbers included Cold Feets, with Jack Calder (Robert) and Quinn Dunne-Cartier (Year 10) as his Best Man, George, demonstrating incredible singing and tap dancing skills; Show Off, with Estee Wilke evoking all the glamour of a 1920s showgirl, and the big production number I Do I Do In The Sky, which featured Trix the Aviatrix, played by the bubbly Sarah Kennelly (Year 9) who whisked the cast, including the Man, off to a happy ending.
The outstanding band, led by Musical Director, Duncan Ferguson, was another critical element of the show. They played at the back of the stage throughout, with their brilliant performances of some challenging musical arrangements getting the audience members’ toes tapping and heads nodding.
Sparkling singing, stunning choreography, and incredible costuming, hair and make-up also helped bring the 1920s era to life.
This was another exceptional Middle School production, with the depth of talent on display boding well for the future at St Andrew’s, with some of these students no doubt moving on to the Senior production next year.