Got back last night from seeing Drowsy Chaperone in Buffalo. Twice, actually. I went specifically to see Jonathan Crombie play Man in Chair but I had truly forgotten just how much I love this show. Even I Am Aldolpho became pleasant the second time. What amazed me in watching it is just how balanced the show is, giving so many characters each a chance to shine. I was especially struck by Fran Jaye's voice. Trix only comes on at the very end but she still gets her moment in the sun, and what a moment it is. And it's fun. The audiences were eating up the jokes and just having an amazing time.
Full disclosure: Jonathan is a dear friend and colleague, and it feels a little weird putting in print what I'm about to say. I recognize that I'm a little biased but I felt he was truly amazing in the role. Man in Chair is the character that takes us through the craziness, sharing his enthusiasm for the show and for the world of musicals. But what I found most riveting was a moment later on in the show, during a number where two characters are singing about love, his face just turned dark. All he was doing was just watching this action but I could see and feel a million things going on as he watched. I was stunned by it in a way I wasn't when I saw Bob Martin play it. I wasn't the only one apparently, as the Buffalo News described him as "magnetic and hilarious". I think this role is perfect for him, playing to his own youthful enthusiasm, utilizing his fantastic comedic timing, and allowing him to put his dramatic chops into play as well.
It was my first time in Buffalo, which is kind of hard to believe living so close to it all my life. I was blown away by the gorgeous buildings - I'm such a sucker for Art Deco. I went up the observation deck at the beautiful and imposing City Hall. I ate Buffalo wings at their birthplace, the Anchor Bar. I did an awful lot of trekking in the Buffalo suburbs looking for things like art galleries and laundromats. My hotel rocked - best room ever. It's something when you've got a better room than the lead of a touring Broadway musical. Despite an ice storm my first night there (which proved that my new bitchin' boots had zero traction) I had a really good time.
I haven't blogged in a bit and in the meantime, my fringe drinking buddy Kelly Nestruck has become the theatre reviewer for the Globe and Mail. Congrats Kelly. It's great to have you back.