Take a trip to the Jazz Age
Nancy Thompson was famous in Tokyo back in the 1970s.
She had a starring role in a Japanese television series and was the first Alice in Wonderland at Tokyo Disneyland, when it opened in 1983.
Ask her about being a child star today, and she will joke about being “typecast”.
“I played ‘the little blonde girl’ in most shows — there weren’t that many,” she said.
“There’s so many more Caucasians there now than when I moved there in 1969, 24 years after the Second World War.”
Perhaps it is fortunate for Bermuda theatregoers that she focused on academics as well as acting.
The chartered accountant has performed in numerous plays and musicals in the period since she arrived here 20-odd years ago.
She will next take to the stage in a Gilbert & Sullivan Society production, The Drowsy Chaperone.
Mrs Thompson plays the title character in the award-winning musical. She stars alongside fellow Canadian Phillip Jones.
The pair first performed together in the comedy Marriage is Murder, in 1999.
“Nancy tricked me into it,” Dr Jones said. “I had only ever done straight shows before that, no musicals. I’ve now done about a dozen of them.
“The hardest part was not focusing on the fact that I’m an uncomfortable singer.”
The Drowsy Chaperone won five Tony Awards after its debut on Broadway in 2006.
Gilbert & Sullivan describes it as a “loving send-up of a Jazz-Age musical featuring one show-stopping song and dance after another”.
“With the houselights down, a man in a chair appears on stage and puts on his favourite record, the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical.
“The recording comes to life and The Drowsy Chaperone begins as the man in the chair looks on.
“Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a misguided Don Juan, a female aviator and an intoxicated chaperone, and you have the ingredients for an evening of madcap delight.”
Dr Jones, who works in the Emergency Room at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, plays The Man in the Chair.
“I’ve been acting my whole life, since I was about 12,” he said. “Mainly amateur theatre but I worked professionally a little bit in Canada, with touring companies in my teens.
“Then I went to medical school. I always thought it’d be better to be a doctor in a bar saying I could’ve been an actor than to be a [failed] actor in a bar saying I could’ve been a doctor.”
He wasn’t familiar with The Drowsy Chaperone but was encouraged to read for the role.
“Somehow I’ve made a small niche playing pathetic people and it’s kind of in that ilk,” he said. “He’s a low-functioning, scared little man.
“Whenever he feels bad he puts on music. He only interacts with the audience, no one on stage.”
Mrs Thompson saw The Drowsy Chaperone the year it premiered on Broadway.
“When I found out they were doing it in Bermuda I wanted to be part of it,” she said.
“I play the Drowsy Chaperone. I’m playing an actress, Beatrice Stockwell, who’s playing a role. But really it’s the Man in the Chair’s show.
“The audience goes on a journey with the man in the chair and [Dr Jones is] a great actor, so it’s a perfect fit.
“We think people will enjoy it. It’s very much a traditional musical and very family friendly.”
The Drowsy Chaperone runs from October 1 until October 10 at the Earl Cameron Theatre at 8pm. There is also a 3pm matinee on Sunday, October 4.
Tickets are $55 for general admission and $100 for patrons, and are on sale now at www.ptix.bm.
Tickets can also be purchased on weekdays from the City Hall Box Office, between noon and 2pm until October 9.
The box office will also be open on Saturday, October 3, and October 10 from 10am until 2pm.
Tickets are also available from the box office on show nights between 7pm and 8pm.