jaala: (theatre)
[personal profile] jaala
So, everyone's favourite show about a man obsessed with musicals has opened in London. I enjoyed the preview I saw on 20th May--though you could tell that the parts were tailored to the Broadway actors rather than the London ones--and it appears that the press reaction is generally favourable too.

Richard Ouzounian provides a good summary. Ouzounian has a bit of a history with the show, as I've probably said before...

Now Magazine, November 25-December 1, 1999:
"You know Richard Ouzounian?" asks Martin, referring to TVO's Entertainment head and host of CBC Radio's Say It With Music.

"Well, we love him. But the Creepy Man is based on someone with his enthusiasm, someone who's maybe a little bit too much into the show, someone who bores people by talking about their original-cast albums. Basically it's what Richard Ouzounian would have become if he weren't successful."

Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star, 2001:
This is probably a musical for people who hate musicals, and secretly think they're all silly and trivial. I don't, and so I was less than amused by most of the proceedings. There are people who will enjoy this, and I wish them well. I just don't agree with them. But most of all, let us hope this is where the expansion of The Drowsy Chaperone ends. I really don't want to see it further "improved" a year from now at the Hummingbird Centre, or - heaven forbid - Skydome.

Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star, March 11, 2007:
There's just one last thing to discuss. Back in 1999, when The Drowsy Chaperone was first making it big on the Toronto scene, Martin and Lambert gave an interview to a Toronto weekly in which they said their inspiration for the character of Man in Chair was the host of the CBC Radio musical theatre program, Say It With Music – whose name was Richard Ouzounian.

Was that true?

Martin turns a deep shade of scarlet.

"There were a number of people we were inspired by. What we took from you was the enthusiasm you had for musicals, your passion for them. There was never meant to be any direct personal parallel."

So Martin and company didn't really see me as a lonely loser living on old vinyl and theatre memories?

"No," says Martin emphatically. "That would be me."

But considering the upbeat way things are going for Bob Martin these days, that scenario seems pretty unlikely as well. It looks like, for the time being, Man in Chair is definitely in the driver's seat.

Aww... he's forgiven them. And Ouzounian has (in my experience) been known to change his opinion of shows.

Admittedly, the approach towards the Man in Chair has become much more affectionate over the years. You weren't really supposed to like him in the original production, I think. But now (to quote the review on lastminute.com): "[Man in Chair's] quiet, effeminate enthusiasm is completely infectious as he talks the audience through the show, freezing the action for little titbits of Broadway gossip. [...] You’ll fall in love with the loveable agoraphobic to the extent that if you meet Bob Martin you might not be able to resist asking for a big cardigan-ey hug."

It's true. You desperately want to give the character a big hug--but of course I was too shy to ask for anything more than an autograph from the actor himself. At least Mr Martin let me compliment him on the show and his performance this time, unlike in Toronto where he beat a hasty retreat.

In fact, Bob Martin came to me (!) because he heard me talking with Don McKellar and Casey Nicholaw. I was the only person at the stage door who recognized them, so we were actually able to have a wee chat. (Don McKellar is a pretty approachable person, as I already knew from my last time meeting him.) So Bob comes over from another group of people and says, "Hi... I hear you saw the show in Toronto?" Wee chat continues, I get autographs (Don insisting on using his own blurry pen...), and they depart with, "See you next time... when we open in Singapore!"

A couple more choice quotes about Man in Chair:
"All the action is seen through the eyes of the host, played by Martin himself with the manic gleam of the musical buff and an epicene intensity that would make Kenneth Williams look butch." - Michael Billington, The Guardian
(Not actually a positive review, but I love "make Kenneth Williams look butch." And, really, you have to admire a journalist who uses a word like "epicene.")
"This is a man, incidentally, who can hold an audience enthralled just eating a nutribar!!" - Lizzie Guilfoyle, Indie London


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