The Drowsy Chaperone Review - A Must See

                           

"It does what a musical should do. It takes you to another world." - Man in Chair


A new Musical in its pre-Broadway production "The Drowsy Chaperone" is a farcical romp through the mad-capped world of musical theatre. It is a valentine to the extravagant musicals of the 1920's.  A fond reminiscence of a long lost era when prohibition reigned, liquor flowed like water, showgirls were the Madonna's of their time, and gangsters were a dime a dozen.

 

Cast of The Drowsy Chaperone

It is one of the funniest productions I've ever seen. The laughter started before the stage lights even went up, and continued to the very end.  Indeed nothing is sacred to the creators of  "The Drowsy Chaperone". They take equal opportunity pot shots at everyone, anything and get away with it all. I'm not sure if hilarious is an apt enough word to describe this show. It is sweet, gentle, nostalgic, loving, funny, and funny and funny.  I guess you'd have to call it hilarious or even hysterical at times.

Kecia Lewis-Evans as Trix

"The Drowsy Chaperone" depicts with much affection such characters as the glamorous showgirl (played by the effervescent, Tony Award-winning Sutton Foster), who is giving up the stage for love and marriage; her debonair fiance (handsome Troy Britton Johnson); her world-weary and scene-stealing chaperone (wry, witty Beth Leavel); the nervous best man (skilled Eddie Korbich);

Edward Hibbert as Underling and Georgia Engel as Mrs. Tottendale

the dotty dowager (ditzy Georgia Engel, Georgette of the Mary Tyler Moore Show) who owns the estate where the wedding is to take place; the dowager's sardonic servant (vibrant Edward Hibbert, Fraiser's Gil Chesterton); the scheming producer (polished Lenny Wolpe) who doesn't want to lose his star; and the dizzy chorine  (flibbertigibbet Jennifer Smith) who'd like to replace the star. Adding to the fun are a Latin lover (suave Danny Burstein), a pair of gangsters posing as pastry chefs (outrageous Garth Kravits and Jason Kravits), and an aviatrix (notable Kecia Lewis-Evans).

Cast of The Drowsy Chaperone

Filled with fanciful song and dance numbers like "Cold Feets" depicting a grooms dealing with pre-wedding jitters and a drunken "As We Stumble Along" a nonsensical "Toldeo Surprise" a latin lover boasting serenade "I Am Aldoplpho" and a blindfolded skating groom in "Accident Wating to Happen".  The book and music to this production are absolutely ingenous.

Virtually flawless, I caught one flubbed line and at times had a hard time hearing the soft spoken Georgia Engel. Otherwise the production was superb. Lighting by Ken Billington and Brian Moahan was very effective casting soft shadows during periods of reminiscence and then sweeping into grandiose coverage of  the 20's numbers. The costumes were spectacular you'll want to bring a pair of binoculars just to study the minute detailing designer Gregg Barnes has incorporated.

Troy Britton Johnson as Robert and Sutton Foster as Janet

Hair and makeup by Josh Marquette and Justen M. Brosnan were perfect. Scenic Design by David Gallo was ingenious with absolutely everything having dual uses and changes flowing effortlessly from scene to scene.  Creating an ambience of nostalgia, ordinariness and opulence at the same time. Director and chorographer Casey Nicholaw did a fantastic job; scenes were clear, distinct and flowed easily in what could have been a muddy mess.  The staging and choreography were imaginative, precise and inventive.

Bob Martin as Man in Chair

Written as a wedding gift piece from Don McKellar, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison for the star Bob Martin and his wife Janet Van de Graff. It started out as several songs at a stag party. Then went on to be fleshed out and appeared in the Toronto Fringe Festival with rave reviews, from there it went on to several theatres in Canada.  Producers from Broadway eventually bought the rights and called Center Theatre Groups new artistic director Michael Ritchie, asking if he would be interested in participating in a Los Angeles pre-Broadway production. 

Sutton Foster as Janet and Beth Leavel as Drowsy

This production has not been without its mishaps. During rehearsal star Sutton Foster was working with co-star Troy Britton Johnson in a song called "Accident Waiting To Happen" when she fell backwards and broke her right wrist. She was able to continue with rehearsals and has been performing the part in a cast.  An unusual irony but to top it off, she wasn't doing anything particularly dangerous or outrageous, though her costar was skating blindfolded during the number. The cast didn't stop this trooper who even manages, gently holding her injured arm afloat, to pull of one handed cartwheels.

Danny Burstein as Aldoplho and Beth Leavel as Drowsy

"The Drowsy Chaperone" is a must see production. It is sure to be a big hit here in L.A. and have a long happy life on Broadway.

Jason Kravits and Garth Kravits as Gangsters

The hilarious new musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone," opened Friday, November 18 at 8 p.m. in its pre-Broadway engagement at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. 

"The Drowsy Chaperone," is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw , with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar.

Bob Martin as Man in Chair and Troy Britton Johnson as Robert

Performances of "The Drowsy Chaperone" will run through December 24. Tickets for are available by calling (213) 628-2772 or online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.   Tickets can also be obtained in person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Music Center.


For discounted tickets, Hot Tix at $20 each can be purchased on the day of performance at the box office (cash only).


The Ahmanson Theatre is located downtown at the Los Angeles Music Center.  For further information, please call (213) 628-2772. 

 

Photos by Craig Schwartz

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