The Drowsy Chaperone begins in blackout with a man in a chair saying “I hate theater.” A chuckle escapes from the audience as they are sucked into this crazy musical world. The man (Thomas Krottinger) is a fan of The Drowsy Chaperone the musical and acts as commentator and audience member throughout the show, breaking the fourth wall. As he begins to play the songs from the musical on the record play, the audience sees what the man in the chair is imagining as he listens.
Drowsy is set in the 1920s during the time of prohibition. Janet Van De Graaf (Carrie St. Louis), successful and famous showgirl, is ending her career to marry Robert (Patrick Moynihan), the love of her life. Per tradition, the bride is not allowed to see her fiancé on their wedding day, so it is the job of the drowsy chaperone is (Olivia Lane) to keep Janet away from Robert until the wedding. As her name suggests, the chaperone is drunk and constantly drinking throughout the day. The owner of the theater (Steven Miller) where Janet performed is threatened by gangsters (who are dressed as pastry chefs) to stop the wedding or else the theater’s funding will stop.
Crazy antics ensue with dazzling musical numbers (choreographed by Matthew McFarland) where a threat from the pastry chefs turns into a fun musical number with jazz hands. The theater owner asks Adolpho (Cole Cuomo), the Latin lover, to seduce Janet and stop the wedding. Adolpho mistakenly seduces the drowsy chaperone in a hilariously, clumsy pasodoble. I won’t completely spoil the ending but the show ends with a group musical number, along with many other things happening during the song.
The entire cast gave amazing performances. Thomas Krottinger stole the show as the man in the chair. He is onstage the entire show, and never misses a beat from commenting on the scenes to just actively staying engaged and reacting to what is occurring onstage. Cole Cuomo receives the memorable line once again with “Adolpho,” just as funny as his “I understand” from last spring’s musical On the Town. Haley Willis plays the ditzy, yet hilarious and endearing Kitty. Ben Rudolph (George, the best man) and Patrick Moynihan (Robert, the groom) perform an amazing tap number akin to Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain. The whole production is directed by DJ Blickenstaff.
The set is one of the most elaborate I have seen in the Massman Theatre. It is a full set with 4 different entryways and plenty of unexpected gags from a multi-purpose refrigerator to a plane suddenly appearing. There is wood floor for the entire set that helps enhance the spectacular tap number. The lighting really enhanced the show with varied looks for each musical number (lighting design by Madighan Stehly). It is especially impressive when considering the limited number of dimmers and lighting instruments in the space. There was even a follow spot, which is typical of a musical, but not one is such a small space. The follow spot operator (Alex Underwood) did a great job changing focus mid song without it being distracting.
Drowsy is a perfect show for musical lovers and cynics. The show continually comments on itself and acknowledges the saccharine quality of some of the songs and some of the unrealistic plot devices. At points the man in the chair is saying what the cynic is thinking, making it even more enjoyable. I wasn’t able to mention everyone by name in the article, but the entire creative team put in a tremendous amount of work and presented a very entertaining show.
*Article originally posted here