From today’s Globe and Mail:

New York — Is Canada finally on its way to spawning a successful Broadway musical?

The Drowsy Chaperone, which began seven years ago as a stag-party skit in the backroom of a Toronto bar and grew from a sold-out fringe sensation into a hit at the Winter Garden Theatre, has swept up critics and audiences in its U.S. debut at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, where it opened Friday in what producers are calling a “pre-Broadway run.”

n reviews published yesterday, critics praised the show’s great good humour and especially its leading man, Bob Martin, who co-wrote the show’s book and remains the sole actor remaining from its original incarnation in Toronto.

Calling Chaperone a “delectable show,” the critic for the influential trade newspaper Variety said the musical “emits enough intoxicating charm for just about anyone to get drunk on,” and called Martin’s performance “a breakout role.”

“Retro yet original, genuinely funny, performed with near-perfect precision by a grand ensemble, this is a show-lover’s show, and plenty of its patrons should find it positively inebriating.”

Kevin McCollum, whose Broadway shows include the megahits Rent and Avenue Q, and who invested in the Los Angeles production of Chaperone with the hopes of taking it to Broadway, declared the Variety review to be, “an 11 out of 10.”

Though not as thoroughly won over, the critic for The Los Angeles Times noted, “this is a piece of work that has been handled with care,” and praised Martin for his, “silly but sincere performance.”

Yesterday afternoon, producer Roy Miller said the reviews came as welcome news. “People have been talking about the show the way we’ve been talking about it for years, so it’s certainly nice to know we weren’t crazy,” he said.

A year ago, Miller brought the show’s creative team down from Toronto for a workshop production at the National Alliance of Musical Theatre festival of new musicals, where it won over audiences and attracted the attention of McCollum and producer Bob Boyett.

Last spring, the producers signed Casey Nicholaw to make The Drowsy Chaperone his Broadway directorial debut.

A New York production, which could cost upwards of $11-million, still has a few hurdles to clear. All of the likely theatres are currently booked through the spring, which means another show has to fail before Chaperone could succeed.

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