Chaperone full of family

Atkinsons love the quirky characters in this play

BRENDA GOUGH

NEWS Contributor

It could easily be called All in the Family.  Bard to Broadway’s musical The Drowsy Chaperone, now showing at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach, is quite the family affair with four members of the Atkinson clan in the production.

With Jenny Atkinson as Mrs. Tottendale, her husband Rob as Aldolpho, her son Nicholas as George and her daughter Jessica as Janet Van Der Graaff, there is only one member of the talented Parksville family not performing in the B2B production.

Missing is Miranda Atkinson who just finished her three-year diploma in Musical Theatre Performance from Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario.  Miranda is a professional starving artist now living in Ontario where she is auditioning for roles in Eastern Canada.

The list of Bard to Broadway productions each member of the Atkinson family has performed in is long and varied.

With so many productions under their collective belts it is hard to keep up with who did what show and when.

During a break in the performance schedule, The NEWS caught up with the four talented actors who explained how they all ended up in the hilarious musical.

Jenny agreed it was the music from The Drowsy Chaperone that attracted each of them to audition.

“Nicholas, Rob and I definitely wanted to be in it.  We were familiar with the musical and knew it had a lot of quirky characters,” said Jenny.

“We were sitting around talking about the musical one night and Jessica asked what it was about and the next thing we knew she was auditioning for it,” said Rob.

The Atkinson children grew up around singing, dancing and performing.  Jenny’s mom started the Parksville Ballet School and all three kids were in vocal lessons when they were young.

While their family seems stitched together with the love of performing the acting bug didn’t bite Jenny and Rob until after Miranda got her first role when she was just 10 years old.

She got the lead role in Chemainus Theatre’s production of Annie in 2003 and that got the ball rolling for everyone.

“We followed in her footsteps,” said Jenny.

It was the spring of 2007 when Rob decided to try out for the satirical comedy musical Urinetown.

“Miranda dragged Rob into an audition,” recalled Jenny and the pair both got cast.

Miranda, Jessica and Rob were in Guys and Dolls while Nicholas, Rob and Miranda were in Annie Get Your Gun.

Nicholas now 18 years old is in his 6th season with B2B.  He has been in The Sound of Music, Oliver, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, Hello Dolly, and had the title character in B2B’s Teen Musical Theatre production of Willy Wonka.  Nicholas has been selected more than once for the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts and also trained at the Arts Club’s Musical Theatre Intensive in Vancouver.

Jessica’s last performance with the company was in 2007 for Guys and Dolls.  She trained for many years at Parksville Ballet School, before moving to Vancouver in grade 11 to join the Arts Umbrella Dance Program.  After finishing a two-year grad program Jessica moved to New York for a six-month internship with the Gallim Dance Company.

Jenny recently performed with Schmooze Productions in Sweeny Todd, and a few years ago with B2B in Oliver.

Rob just finished Spring Awakening with Schmooze Productions in Nanaimo.  He has also been on-stage with Nanaimo Theatre Group in Godspell, with Echo Players in Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas, and previously performed with Bard to Broadway in several productions.

Each of them recalled the various productions they’ve performed in and all agreed that being in the same musical has been fun.

Jessica who lives in Nanaimo said she enjoys having dinner with her family and then heading to the Village Theatre together.

Nicholas admitted there were a few embarrassing family moments during rehearsals.

“I was fine with practicing lines with them.  But at the rehearsals we acted like a family and mom used her pet names,” Nicholas said.

With an inspiring cast, crew, and band The Drowsy Chaperone is full of laughs and well worth catching.

There are several more performances in the B2B schedule but you only have until August 17 to see The Drowsy Chaperone, Sexy Laundry and Little Women.

For details visit:  www.b2btheatre.com or call 250-752-4470.