By: Brigitte Berry

Wayne Nolan received praise from the authors of the musical he starred in for making audiences roar with laughter. The music professor played the role of Man in Chair, in The Drowsy Chaperone.


Algonquin professor Wayne Nolan received standing ovations after his starring performance in the musical, the Drowsy Chaperone, making the audience both dissolve into laughter and shed tears of sadness.

The tourism and travel professor performed the weekend of March 14 at the Orpheus Theatre and has received nothing but good reviews for his role.

“Honest to God, he made the whole show come to life,” said Ruth King, a member of Algonquin office support staff who had the opportunity to see the show. “He had us in stitches.”

The Drowsy Chaperone featured Nolan playing the narrator role of Man in Chair, the lead part in the musical.

The curtain rises to a man sitting in a chair – hence Man in Chair – alone in the dark in his apartment. Nolan welcomed the crowd to his introverted character with the first line of the show, “I hate theatre.”

He began to share to the audience his sense of nostalgia for his favourite Broadway musical, the Drowsy Chaperone, which is actually a fictional play fabricated for the story. As the record played in the background the musical magically came to life in his apartment with Nolan narrating the whole thing.

“The whole production of the play was so professionally done. You would have thought you were seeing a Broadway play,” said Marie Castellana, another member of Algonquin support staff who attended the performance to support Nolan.

Nolan remained on stage throughout the entirety of the play, only running off stage for about a minute for his character’s comical bathroom break.

“Mentally, you can never lose concentration,” said Nolan about the experience of remaining on stage for such a long period of time. “It was very hard.”

Nolan’s co-worker, Marie Castellana said she’s seen several plays both in Ottawa and theatres abroad such as Paris, and acknowledged that The Drowsy Chaperone was one of the best she’s seen.

“He was amazing,” she said.

On opening night, one the authors of The Drowsy Chaperone, Robert Martin, personally sent Nolan a congratulatory letter that he received before going on stage.

“The whole cast was ecstatic,” said Nolan about receiving the letter. Robert Martin understood how Nolan must be feeling on opening night because not only did he write the play, but also acted the main role in Toronto, London and on Broadway.

Nolan mainly teaches at the college but always makes time for his passion of acting. When he is involved in a play he is required to attend rehearsals up to five days a week while still teaching his classes.

He’s been starring in plays since high school, and has been involved with Orpheus Theatre since 1980, where he got his start singing in the chorus of Guys and Dolls.

Orpheus Theatre is a community theatre where Nolan has mainly performed, not only acting but directing as well. He has also worked with other community theatres like Ottawa Little Theatre and Nepean Little Theatre.

Nolan is not currently involved in any productions but is eagerly waiting for the next opportunity for an audition.