Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Musical Direction by Doug Peck
Directed and Choreographed by Marc Robin
Nothing drowsy about this evening of pure pleasure
How delightful to find such an original and amusing “parody-plus-tribute” to the golden age of Broadway musicals. If ever you longed to return to their past glory, now is the moment, and Marriott Lincolnshire is the place.
In the still darkened theater, a disembodied, rather petulant voice suddenly announces, “I hate theater.” The speaker prays for the play to be short, the actors to refrain from roaming the audience, and the escapism of a few good songs. He gets far more than his wish – and so do we!
The lights come up to reveal him — a slim, elderly theater addict (James Harms) sitting in a swivel chair, alone in his apartment, preparing to chase away the blues by nostalgically enjoying vinyl records of his favorite 1928 musical: The Drowsy Chaperone.
He, himself, has never seen the play; the 2-record album was a gift from his mother. Therefore, everything that follows springs from his vivid imagination. This, and his wry commentary, makes the evening.
What a romp! It is all frivolous fun – with as silly a plot as any musical. As this play within a play – really “musical within a comedy” — unfolds, ditzy Mrs. Tottendale (Paula Scrofano) and her competent butler Underling (Gene Weygandt) prepare to host a wedding at her estate. Jane Van De Graaff (Tari Kelly) – a celebrated showgirl — will give up her successful career to marry dashing, handsome oil tycoon Robert Martin (Tyler Hanes), a man she barely knows. Her irate producer, Feldzeig (David Lively) tries to thwart the marriage by persuading Latin Lothario Adolpho (Adam Pelty) to seduce the bride.
Everything is confounded by the sexy, sultry drowsy chaperone herself (Linda Balgord), a pair of matched and interchangeable gangsters (brothers Adrian and Alexander Aguilar), best man George (Andy Lupp), and would-be chorine Kitty (Laura E. Taylor). Add Trix, a mysterious aviatrix (Melody Brett), and the vital, vivid, hilarious company is complete.
Will the course of true love ever run smooth – absolutely – both because and in spite of all the complications!
The fine cast executes the broad, slapstick comedy to perfection with precise timing, fine voices, catchy tunes, show-stopping tap dancing and clever choreography.
Charming, highly entertaining scenes follow each other in dazzling progression. Mrs. Tottendale garbed in an elaborate ball gown sings about her pretty dress while wondering why she is wearing it. Robert Martin and George, tap dance to the song “Cold Feet” as they prepare for the ceremony, and later Robert roller-skates around his fiancé while blindfolded in a garden love scene. Janet is not to be overshadowed, as when she vamps through the song “Show Off” ironically declaiming that she is getting married because she is weary of showing off. The fun continues. The gangsters cavort, and Adolpho is memorable, tossing back the white streak in his hair and getting caught up in the folds of his cape while singing an ode to his name lest his partner forget it in the act of making love. This crackerjack comedic cast is held together by the Man in the Chair’s witty narration and asides.
The Drowsy Chaperone debuted on Broadway in 2006 to deservedly win seven Drama Desk Awards and five Tony’s.
Would I like to see it again? You bet!
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2010
At the Marriot Theatre in Lincolnshire,10 Marriott Drive, 847-634-0200, tickets $35-48, runs Wednesdays at 1 and 8 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 and 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 and 5 p.m. Running time is 95 minute with a 15 minute intermission, through June 27.