The cast of The Drowsy Chaperone (photo: Dean Kalyan)

The response to Phoenix’s current production of The Drowsy Chaperone, directed by Jacques Lemay, has been fantastic. From audiences to reviewers alike, this production is being hailed as one of the Phoenix’s best shows ever!

It’s such a hit, in fact, that the show is now extended through to November 25. All prior shows are currently SOLD OUT, except for the recent additions of Sunday, November 25 at 2 & 8pm—but we also expect those shows to also sell out quickly. Call the Phoenix box office at 250-721-8000, and note that all hold-over tickets are $30.

Here’s a quick roundup of what the media are saying:

“[Jacques] Lemay takes full rein as director and choreographer—and the results are even more stunning. This is one of the best shows staged by the university’s theatre department in recent years and should not be missed,” notes thisTimes Colonist review by Adrian Chamberlain. “Everything about this elegant, detailed production works well: the excellent costumes, set, acting, dancing, choreography . . . . [this is] a truly superior piece of theatre that will undoubtedly be a highlight of the season.”

Douglas Peerless as the Man in the Chair (photo: Dean Kalyan)

“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 Phoenix Theatre is exactly what you need,” says this Monday Magazine review by Sheila Martindale. “With minimal plot, unlikely romantic situations and dynamic singing and dancing, this musical play is just the ticket to chase away the November blues.”

While Martindale praises the cast—notably student Douglas Peerless as the Man in the Chair narrator, who she describes as being “irrepressibly enthusiastic and very cute”—she also highlights the production’s designers. “Bryan Kenney’s set is clever, starting with a tiny apartment kitchen, which folds away to reveal a spacious 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.”

The Showbill Canada blog was similarly effusive in this review by Tony Carter: “While the effort and skill that went into this production is clear from everyone involved, special praise is owed to Douglas Peerless . . . . [but] for every bit of character work that Peerless deserves praise for, the actors who populate the diegetic musical deserve just as much for their physicality . . . from Ted Angelo Ngkaion’s blindfolded roller skating to Alison Roberts show-stopper stage routine, to Rahat Saini’s incredible vocals all live up to the Broadway tradition . . . . The Drowsy Chaperone has no bad performances. It is a Broadway classic brought to life by an amazing set design and a talented cast and crew.”

Rahat Saini as the titular chaperone (photo: Dean Kalyan)

Local arts podcast Check the Program was also delighted by it, noting, “This is a very strong production and the kind of show Phoenix does so well: it’s a big show that needs a big stage, a big cast, big sets and big costumes . . . director Jacques Lemay has managed to find the tragedy and the sadness in that character, which really shifts it from just being a comedy; it has a strong emotional core . . . Bryan Kenney‘s sets are fantastic . . . Graham McMonagle continues a streak of really great costumes . . . it really is so much fun. It’s a great show!”

Finally, the student press was also very enthusiastic, with UVic’s Martlet reviewer Adam Bach describing it as “a grand spectacle . . . honourable [cast] mentions include Aaron Smail and David Cosbey—they earn their laughs not just through physical comedy and choice accents, but by (smartly) playing opposites to each other’s size and vocal range. Another honourable mention goes to Ciaran Volke. Though his role has the least amount of jokes built directly into the script, he has everyone (but himself) giggling the whole show. The ensemble works together to command the stage, thrilling the audience with comedy and a wholesome undertone. Several numbers beg standing ovations in and of themselves.”

Nicholas Atkinson as the comic lothario Adolpho (photo: Dean Kalyan)

And Camosun’s the Nexus said in their review by Katy Weicker that “the star of this show, in many ways, is the complex stage . . . [but] the over-the-top performance style of the actors . . . I found incredibly entertaining . . . in particular, Justin Francis Lee, Rahat Saini and Nicholas Atkinson. While most of the actors managed to steal the spotlight at one point or another with their shenanigans and hijinx, the consistent shining light in the performance was Douglas Peerless, our fourth-wall-breaking narrator . . . Peerless is complex and nuanced, causing the audience to laugh out loud one moment and fight back tears alongside him the next. His raw, modern-day realness as the only major character outside the musical gives the perfect contrast to the show-stopping energy of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Weicker concludes that, “the Phoenix Theatre should be commended for tackling such an ambitious project. It’s clearly a huge undertaking . . . they nailed the razzle-dazzle, the quick-change costumes and sets, and the comedic timing of an old-time musical, while giving a real person for the audience to connect with in Peerless’ Man in Chair.”

Simply put, don’t miss The Drowsy Chaperone at the Phoenix . . . if you can get a ticket. People are sure to be talking about this production for years to come!