Sunday, Dec 16, 2018
 
search SGN
Sunday, Dec 16, 2018
click to go to click to visit advertiser's website


 

 

Speakeasy Speed Test

Cost of the
War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
 

 

click to go to advertisers website
 
You'll stay alert for The Drowsy Chaperone
You'll stay alert for The Drowsy Chaperone
by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

The Drowsy Chaperone
5th Avenue Theater
Through November 16


The Drowsy Chaperone is the little musical you may never have heard of, and if you haven't, you're about to, and with good reason. The 2006 Tony Award-winning musical is a pure, fluffy delight, which does not blush from being a throwback to a time when silliness and slapstick were commonly accepted on stage and in life with equal relish. Using the technique of a play within a play, or in this case "comedy within a musical," the show provides escapism not only for the main character of the show, but also for the audience.

Greeting the audience from the blackness of the stage, the main character, "Man in Chair" (played by Jonathan Crombie), shatters the fourth wall of theater from the get-go. When the lights come up on his modest apartment, he explains that to pull him from his current mood he likes to listen to his records ("yes, records"), and imagine the show unfolding before him. The audience is transported, paralleled with the Man in Chair as our host and tour guide. We share his enthusiasm and addiction. His chosen method is a re-issued vinyl recording of the late-'20s production of the musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone. The audience follows his invitation to listen, and is treated to the nostalgic sounds of vinyl pops, hisses and record skips.

The show comes to life as Man in Chair explains a little of each character in turn. Dotty Mrs. Tottendale (Georgia Engel) is hosting a wedding for acclaimed vaudeville star, Janet Van De Graaff (played by Andrea Chamberlain) to a man she barely knows, Robert Martin (Mark Ledbetter). She is trading the fame of glamour for a life of love. The story continues along with her producer, Feldzieg (Mason Roberts) that wants the wedding stopped so he doesn't lose his leading lady and two gangsters posing as pastry chefs to make sure their gang boss doesn't lose his investment in Feldzieg's production. Through a series of mix-ups, word puns and hijinks that include almost every stereotype of slapstick known, the wedding is called off. Through shtick and song, all character mishaps are cleared and - in true cliché theatrical fashion - it ends with a big musical number. The entire thing should be served with a cherry on top and a wafer cookie jutting off the edge.

But we willingly eat it and with pure delight. We dive right in and don't care if the sweetness makes our teeth tingle. We use the spoon to get each drop and smack our lips deliciously, knowing we have enjoyed pure spun sugar. There is no pretension to this show, and the entire production pokes fun at itself. It never tries to be anything but an enjoyable mockery of an old-time musical.

The addition of the hosting Man in Chair is what makes the show exceptional. It's why we don't mind the sugar rush, nor the hangover that we know is to follow. Through his commentary on the musical and himself, we learn about and identify with this character. There is a glimpse into his emotions and we can understand why he feels "blue."

The musical's characters - as could be expected - are all presented in cartoonist fashion; a lilting (power-belting) leading lady, a bungling best man and the title character, the drowsy chaperone. She (played by Alicia Irving) gets her title from the effect that champagne has on her. Taking place against the setting of prohibition, she brings an ample supply of her own to the wedding she is chaperoning.

Mrs. Tottentdale is played with great effervescence by Georgia Engel of Mary Tyler Moore fame. She repeats the role she originated and played for one year on Broadway with charm and a bubbling personality that anyone would have trouble distinguishing between her onstage and personal personas. Her theatrical partner in crime, the butler Underling played by Noble Shropshire, seem to encourage each other to further ditzy behavior, including a spit-take scene. Adolpho (brilliantly played by Dale Hensley) takes root in the persona of the early cinema's Latin lover and is exaggerated wonderfully. His larger-than-life bungling produces many laughs and becomes a scene-stealing role.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a wonderful distraction. It's what a musical is supposed to be: pure fantasy escapism. The fact that it's done with a good cast of actors who sing and dance well enough is that much more of a bonus for us. And since it's performed without the interruption of an intermission, the one hour and 45-minute production flies by, carrying the audience on a lighter wind and releasing a tune that we can take out with us.

The show was originally a shorter presentation written as a wedding gift for the real (Canadian comic) Bob Martin (Slings & Arrows) to his real-life fiancé, Ms. Janet Van De Graaff. It was expanded with help of lyricists/composers Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and entered into the Canadian Theater Festival. From there it went to Broadway in 2006 playing almost 700 performances before closing. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, winning five, including Best Musical Score and Best Book of a Musical of 2006.

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog


: http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2008

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News