A very nice review of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE from The Column by John Garcia

We’ve received our first review for THE DROWSY CHAPERONE from The Column by John Garcia. Overall it is a very solid recommendation of a show that we are very proud of. This week the show has a few single seats left for Friday and Saturday night, is sold out Saturday afternoon and has about 20 seats for tonight. We are grateful to our very hard working cast and crew for presenting such a wonderful show and look forward to seeing you soon. Read on for The Column’s DROWSY review.

Reviewed by Richard S. Blake, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

_________________THE DROWSY CHAPERONE _________________

Reviewed by Richard S. Blake, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

Plaza Theatre Company presents an entertaining evening with its production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

The Drowsy Chaperone debuted in 1998 at The Rivoli in Toronto and opened on Broadway May 1st, 2006. The show won the Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score. It started as a spoof of old musicals, written by friends for the wedding of book co-writer Martin and his wife, Janet. The show had major productions in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, London and Japan, as well as two North American tours.

The show starts with a present-day musical theatre fanatic eager to tell you about his favorite Broadway musical – The Drowsy Chaperone. He’s an ultimate theatre fan and “Drowsy” is his guilty pleasure. To chase his blues away, a modern day musical theatre addict known simply as Man in Chair drops the needle on his favorite LP – the 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone.

From the crackle of his hi-fi, the uproariously funny musical magically bursts to life on stage, telling the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to get married, her producer who sets out to sabotage the nuptials, her chaperone, the debonair groom, the dizzy chorine, the Latin lover and a pair of gangsters who double as pastry chefs. Man in Chair’s infectious love of The Drowsy Chaperone speaks to anyone who has ever been transported
by the theatre.

Direction by Kyle Macy is generally on par, but does lack some scenic presentations. Plaza is in the round, which can pose difficulties for a director but Mr. Macy generally handles that aspect well. However, some of the actors’ blocking and stage “pictures” are a bit awkward. Many times you are looking around the entire space to see what is going on and that tends to detract from the main action of the scene. Mr. Macy does have a talented cast but in some cases that talent is lost in the blocking. However, entrances and scenes flow and keep you engaged throughout the performance.

Mr. Macy also plays the lead role of Man in the Chair. His portrayal and skill as an actor is evident and he has great character timing. Mr. Macy engages you and keeps the story moving very well. It’s a difficult choice to star and/or direct a production, and in choosing both, his skill as an actor overpowered his direction of the production.

It’s a difficult choice to star and/or direct a production, and in choosing both, Mr. Macy’s skill as an actor overpowered his direction of the production. As a Producer and Director myself, it is my opinion a director should not perform in his/her own production, especially a leading role. It comes off as if the director is starring in the production with “other people” on the stage to assist. Choosing to perform a leading role in your own production also muddles the focus of the director’s commitment to a productions artistic merit, quality and presentation.

It’s not impossible, but extremely difficult NOT to worry about the acting portion of your responsibility if you’re also directing, especially in a large musical production such as this one. In this case, Mr. Macy even goes into great detail in his “Director’s Notes” in the program for the show, explaining being “pre-cast” by the producers and initially saying no, then eventually “caving-in to the pressure” and saying yes. In this case, I believe Mr. Macy should have stuck to his original decision of “no, I’ll only direct” because it did affect his skill as a director in this production.

Music direction by Kristin Spires is well done and consistent. She has some powerful singers and a large ensemble to balance this show and Ms. Spires directs them well. This is a musical about a musical and Ms. Spires uses the strengths of her vocalists to great advantage throughout the entire production.

Choreography by Eddie Floresca is spot on and with such a large cast his use of the space is executed nicely. Sometimes less is better with musical dance scenes and Mr. Floresca shows that restraint. When a number calls for all-out-dancing, he chooses wisely and his cast executes his well-designed choreography wonderfully.

The costume design by Tina Barrus is consistently accurate with the period and works well with all the movement onstage. Her designs never seem out of place, uncomfortable or mismatched. Ms. Barrus provides wonderful details to the dresses and accessories for the women, and the men looked dapper, well fit and perfectly matched throughout the production.

Jaceson P. Barrus’ set design works in the space. Wonderful detail is given to the side apartment kitchen and the main performance space is lightly laid out with just the right amount of pieces. This is a wise choice given the stage and the large cast.

The video integration with a large projection on one wall also assists with the flow of the story. The smaller LCD television on another wall seems to be a bit out of place. Adding a few more around the entire space would help in viewing the great “slides” and comedic video moments. I do have to give high credit to the use of a VERY large set piece that is integral to this production. I won’t give it away, but any theatre that produces this musical takes on a huge task getting this element right. Mr. Barrus does and does it with style!

There are some places within the acting space that do not light the performers quite brightly enough but the lighting design by Cameron Barrus is generally executed well and doesn’t distract from the action.

Sound design by G. Aaron Siler is crisp, consistent and never distracts from the performance. Sound operators did miss microphone entrances and tended to struggle once in a while with the balance of the music and vocals.

The entire cast of this production does an excellent job on stage. Everyone is confident, entertaining and presents wonderful character choices. Never once does someone overpower, upstage or inappropriately take focus from another. Intimate scenes are wonderfully focused and large group numbers are executed perfectly. Macy cast this show very well and the talent brought together blends seamlessly. It is a pleasure to watch and hear this cast perform and they will not disappoint. Some standout performances were;

Daron Cockrell as Janet Van De Graaff. Ms. Cockrell has a powerful voice and uses it splendidly on stage. Her control is superb and always commands the stage. She is exciting to watch!

Robert Martin played by Jonathan Metting does a wonderful portrayal of his character. His vocals are crisp, exciting and a pleasure to hear. Mr. Metting’s acting choices work very well and keep you engaged throughout the production.

The Underling played by Luke Hunt offers some great comedic moments to the production. His dead-pan looks, timing and interactions on stage are simply perfect.

Aldolpho played by Ben Phillips keeps you laughing at his every move. His portrayal is engaging, never over-the-top or distracting. Mr. Phillips does an amazing job with his role.

Overall, Plaza Theatre Company produces an entertaining musical that will make you smile, laugh and leave the theatre humming more than one catchy tune.

Reviewed by Richard S. Blake, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

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