No pantomime for Drowsy Chaperone

Breaking the fourth wall is a commonly used theatre device, especially in pantomimes.

Man In Chair is portrayed by Tony Arnold as Courtenay Little Theatre presents The Drowsy Chaperone. There are seven performances at the Sid Williams Theatre from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4.

Breaking the fourth wall is a commonly used theatre device, especially in pantomimes.

Courtenay Little Theatre’s winter production of the Drowsy Chaperone, written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, is no pantomime.

The show is described as a comedy within a musical, and its breaking of the fourth wall is not there solely as a means for humour; it is a way of drawing the audience into the play and telling the story of the Drowsy Chaperone.

The audience is spoken to by Man In Chair, an elderly man alone in his apartment. He puts on the record of his favourite musical, the Drowsy Chaperone, and as he listens to it, the show comes to life around him, transforming his small apartment into an elaborate set.

The Drowsy Chaperone — the musical within the comedy — is a show from 1928, with stagecraft from that era such as dream sequences, mistaken identities, and spit takes (a comic technique in which someone spits a beverage out of his or her mouth when he or she reacts to a statement) amongst other forms of hilarity.

Man In Chair is portrayed by Tony Arnold, longtime member of CLT and an award-winning actor in many community theatre productions.

Arnold is a well-known face to those who frequent the Sid Williams Theatre and was most recently seen in CLT’s production of The Winslow Boy, which was runner up for Best Production at the North Island Zone Drama Festival. Arnold was named Best Male Lead Actor.

“I love playing the Man In Chair because of his complexity,” Arnold says. “His passion and joy is the fantasy world of musical theatre, and I love the sly and witty comments he makes about the characters.”

But with the Man In Chair’s sense of humour comes a fear of the ‘real world,’ a place he considers full of ‘dreary horrors.’

The musical within a comedy aspect of the show brings a lot of fun with it. There is no intermission, for example, because Man In Chair decides not to take a break in between listening to the two records.

“A character talking to the audience is a convention often used in the theatre with varying success,” Arnold says. “In The Drowsy Chaperone it works really well because we get to enjoy the character of Man in Chair as well as the lively musical he so enthusiastically portrays for us.”

Man In Chair acts as a tour guide for the audience through the world of The Drowsy Chaperone. He is ready to share bits and pieces of trivia about the show with the audience, but is continually distracted by watching his favourite musical.

His story is just as important as the characters from the onstage musical, and by the end of the show, the audience has grown to care for him just as he cares for the characters in The Drowsy Chaperone.

Without Man In Chair, The Drowsy Chaperone would be just another musical, though a witty and satiric one; with him, the comedic musical begins to really mean something and the audience truly can connect to the show.

There are seven shows, opening Dec. 28 and running to January 4 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay. Evening shows are Dec. 28, 30, 31 and Jan. 2, 3, 4 starting at 7:30, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 29.

Tickets are already selling fast at the Sid Williams Ticket Centre. For more information, visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com or phone 250-338-2430, ext. 1.

— Courtenay Little Theatre

Just Posted

Comox Valley Regional District announces key water treatment project land acquisition

District buys land from Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association

VIDEO: Humpback whale plays with a log near Comox Harbour

On Dec. 2, Lifeforce Ocean Friends found a four-year-old humpback named “Lorax”… Continue reading

Seasonal favourite comes to the Sid Williams Theatre

Many of us can remember a favourite Christmas gift - what is… Continue reading

Unity Comox Valley hosts serenity service in Comox Thursday

Do you have mixed feelings about the holidays? Unity offers a special… Continue reading

UPDATE: RCMP involved in crash south of Courtenay Saturday night

An RCMP member was involved in a three-vehicle collision on Highway 19… Continue reading

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall, shutdown

US president wants $5 billion for border wall, while Democrats offer up about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures

Trapped humpback whale freed from salmon farm near Tofino

“All of these problems could be solved by the farms moving onto land and getting out of the ocean.”

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

VIP packages available for 2019 Boys & Girls Club golf tourney

Ideal Christmas gift for the golfer on your list

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Most Read