As previously announced, London, England-born Canadian Martin, who co-wrote the Drowsy libretto with Don McKellar, will re-create his Man in Chair performance for the show's West End premiere, beginning May 14 at the Ivor Novello Theatre. Elaine Paige co-stars there.
On April 17, John Glover steps into the Broadway production to play the salty and charming narrator, known as Man in Chair, of the musical comedy that won Best Score and Best Book Tonys in 2006. Before Tony winner Glover joins, understudies Jay Douglas and Patrick Wetzel are expected to fill the cushy job of Man in Chair, starting March 13.
Just because he leaves a dent in a cushion doesn't mean Martin won't fill it again. Martin previously told Playbill.com that it's his hope and expectation that if the details can be worked out, he'll play Man in Chair in Toronto, where the national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone is expected to play. The musical was first developed in Toronto. The tour launches this fall, but a launch city has yet to be announced.
Since Martin has deep ties with the show (he did co-write it, after all), it's expected that he could very well make future appearances in the Broadway run as well.
Playing a vulnerable, starchy, hermetic, slightly misanthropic show-tune fanatic with a penchant for woolly sweaters, tea and snifters of brandy, Martin was a surprise audience and critic favorite in the 2005-06 season. With roots in the improv and comedy community in Canada, Martin had a period of adjustment clicking into the routine of a legit musical comedy actor, he told Playbill.com in 2006.
"Everybody thinks an actor only works a couple of hours a day, but the fact is you think about a performance all day long," he said. "You're timing out when you're going to eat, and you don't want to tire yourself too much."
His past in improvisation helped fuel his performance every night, and his appearance on the 2006 Tony Awards also included some unscripted moments. At the Marquis, Martin has often played off responses of people in the audience, without interrupting or adding to the 1 hour 48 minute running time of the intermissionless show.
He explained, "If it's disruptive, I'll just sort of plow through, but if somebody's actually into the action and replying to something I've said, I'll often refer to them."
Martin is co-creator of the popular Canadian comedy series, "Slings & Arrows," about the dysfunctional people who run a theatre festival, seen over three seasons on Canadian and U.S. cable TV (its third season is currently on the Sundance Channel).
His current writing projects include work for television and the stage, he told Playbill.com.
"If unchecked, I am a workaholic," Martin admitted. "This Broadway experience has been so rich for me that I would love to do something in the style of 'Slings & Arrows' — using the Broadway experience. I certainly have been thinking about that. There are endless stories about personalities [in the theatre] — and the whole process is incredibly interesting, and would be for a general audience."
Although nothing official has been announced, Sutton Foster, who also stars in Drowsy, is expected to exit the Marquis this spring when her contract expires. She was Tony-nominated for playing a starlet in the show.
Directed and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Casey Nicholaw (Spamalot), with music and lyrics by Tony Award winners Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Tony Award winners Bob Martin and Don McKellar, The Drowsy Chaperone began Broadway previews April 3, 2006, and opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006.
"To chase his blues away, a modern day musical theatre addict known simply as 'Man in Chair' drops the needle on his favorite cast album – the 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone," according to the producers. "From the crackle of his hi-fi, the uproariously funny musical magically bursts to life on stage. We are instantly immersed in the hilarious tale of a glamorous bride and her uproarious wedding day, complete with thrills and surprises that take both the cast (literally) and the audience (metaphorically) soaring into the heavens. Man in Chair's infectious love of The Drowsy Chaperone speaks to anyone who has ever been transported by the theatre."
The show is produced by Kevin McCollum, Roy Miller, Boyett Ostar, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman.