A spectacular review of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE from the Star Group Newspapers

It’s amazing isn’t it? That two critics can see the same exact production on the same exact night and come away with a completely different perspective. We are grateful that this review by Amy Wolff Sorter of The Star Group Newspapers lauds the excellent work of Director and Star Kyle Macy. While this weekend for the show is Sold Out, there are still tickets starting with next weekends shows. Do yourself a favor and come catch this laugh-a-minute musical comedy. You’ll be glad ya did. 817-202-0600

_______________ THE DROWSY CHAPERONE _______________

The Drowsy Chaperone will keep you awake laughing
By Amy Wolff Sorter

Mention the musical The Drowsy Chaperone to anyone, and the reaction could range from a polite smile to huh? This is because The Drowsy Chaperone is one of those best-kept-secret, Tony-award-winning musicals.

The show, written by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Bob Martin and Don McKellar, isn’t one of overly advertised productions (think Spiderman ). On Broadway, it closed after 674 performances. In London, it lasted fewer than 100 performances. In Canada and Australia, the show had similarly restricted runs. It also tours from time to time, but isn’t a chestnut in a lot of theater s repertoires. Possibly one reason for this is because the production is billed as an homage to American musicals of the Jazz Age. As a result, you might walk into the show thinking it’ll consist of singers, dressed in period costumes, standing around microphones and singing old jazz tunes.

In truth, you’ll walk out of the show with your stomach hurting from laughing too hard.

The Drowsy Chaperone opens with a Man in The Chair, who, longing for the good old days of Broadway musicals, invites the audience to listen to his vinyl recording of The Drowsy Chaperone, considered a blockbuster musical in its time (1928). As he listens and expounds, the cast from the musical magically appears in his apartment and proceeds to enact a show of extremely high farce, concerning a showgirl who wants to give up her career to marry a wealthy man, but whose producer doesn’t want her to leave. Said producer is threatened by two gangsters (disguised as pastry chefs), belonging to the producer’s investor. To save himself, the producer enlists the help of a bumbling Latin lover to seduce the showgirl, to stop the wedding and . . . well, you get the picture.

Suffice it to say that this musical within a comedy offers everything from mistaken identities, to a lot of misunderstandings, to spit takes, to appropriately enough a drowsy chaperone (read: tipsy chaperone).

The Plaza Theatre production starts with a disclaimer, in the program, by show’s director Kyle Macy. He points out that he was honored to be asked to direct the play. But when the Plaza Theatre producers asked him to take on the role of Man in the Chair as well, he balked. Directing others is tricky, but to do that and direct yourself is crazy, he writes. Good thing for the Plaza Theatre audience is that the producers wore down Macy. He took on the role of director and Man in the Chair and does an outstanding job at both.

Man in the Chair is not a bystander’s role – he is the show. He sets the tenor, tone and speed of the show. In using his directorial eye and skillfully breaking through the fourth wall, Macy helps the audience experience this farce-laden musical. And, in wearing his actor hat, Macy drops bits and pieces of his own sad life of Man in the Chair, offering reasons as to why he can only find happiness amid his vinyl collection of antique musicals.

Another good thing for the audience is that Macy works with a terrific cast. Everyone, from showgirl Janet Van De Graaf (Daron Cockerell); to suitor Robert Martin (Jonathan Metting); to overanxious best man George (Doug Henry), portray the musical within this show in broad, satiric brushstrokes, complete with exquisite comic timing.

The women shine particularly well. Cockerell along with Trich Zaitoon (Mrs. Tottendale); Jaye Jenny Smith (who does an outstanding job as ditzy wannabe leading lady Kitty); Milette Siler (who portrays the Tipsy Chaperone, double-cast with Caitlin Davis), and Davis herself in the role as Trix the Aviatrix (which she doubles with Jill Baker), are all terrific singers with amazing vocal ranges and a lot of power.

Cockerell plays Van De Graaf broadly, without bordering into overdone. Zaitoon (who had audiences laughing in Plaza Theatre s recent production of The Foreigner ) has some amazingly funny bits opposite Luke Hunt, who portrays the straight man butler to perfection.

This is not to ignore the men. Metting’s Robert Martin does a great job combining a wistful passion for his showgirl fiancé with a determination to do the right thing when misunderstandings between himself and the lovely Van De Graaf ensue. Gangster No. 1 and Gangster No. 2 (portrayed by JaceSon Barrus and G. Aaron Siler) provoke laughter with their pun-happy, if somewhat threatening, dialogue to the perpetually concerned Feldzeig, portrayed by Jamie Long. And as Latin lover Aldopho, Ben Phillips mugs, arm waves and verbalizes the character to hilarious results.

But in discussing the men as well as the women we need to return to Macy. At the risk of gushing, he made it look easy. He pulled together a difficult production aplomb which is not an easy task. The Plaza Theatre producers made the right call in wearing him down and insisting he act and direct. The only thing remaining is for you to see it yourself. But be warned: Your stomach will hurt.

The Drowsy Chaperone is presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through April 14. Tickets $15 for adults, $13 for age 65-plus and students, and $12 for children age 12 and under are available 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday at the Plaza Theatre, 111 S. Main in Cleburne, or by phone at 817-202-0600.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: