The Drowsy Chaperone – Review by Lauren Rosenay

There Is Nothing Sleepy About “The Drowsy Chaperone”

If you’re looking for a night of true musical theater comedy, you won’t be disappointed by The Drowsy Chaperone at the Goodspeed Opera House, directed by Hunter Foster. Running until November 25th, this play is uniquely told by the narrator and musical theater fanatic, the Man in the Chair (John Scherer), from the audience’s perspective. This is one of the attributes that makes this show stand out from others, having the Man in the Chair experience the show along with the audience. This show is everything one can ask for in a musical with exciting dance numbers, catchy songs, a lot of heart and energy, and slapstick and situational comedy.

The Drowsy Chaperone, simply put, is a sitcom gone berserk. The plot revolves around the upcoming wedding of Janet Van de Groff (Stephanie Rothenberg) and Robert
Martin (Clyde Alves). With the wedding on its way, everyone has a job to ensure a successful event. However, through miscommunications, a blindfolded groom on roller skates, a Latin lover on the loose, a bride impersonating a French woman, an angry producer who doesn’t want to lose the star of his show, and a drowsy chaperone who can’t operate soberly during the prohibition, things manage to go awry in some very unexpected and hysterical ways.

Foster, the director, is very successful in portraying each character in his or her own distinct light. Each actor has a trait that is highlighted to make himself or herself unique. Kitty (Ruth Pferdehirt), the producer’s girlfriend who tries to become the new starlet of his show, is the stereotypical ditzy blonde with a huge personality. She constantly has her mouth wide-open with a huge grin, no matter what her emotion is. Aldolpho (John Rapson), as the womanizing Casanova, never loses the strong and over-exaggerated accent nor his playboy persona. The Drowsy Chaperone (Jennifer Allen), whose job is to keep the bride from seeing the groom before the nuptials, is always drunk or wanting to be drunk.

The gangsters (Blakely Slaybaugh and Parker Slaybaugh), have impeccable and precise comedic timing that really sells their slapstick bits. Everything that the gangers do is well- synchronized, from the way that they walk, to the rhythmic timing of how they turn their heads, to the way their words and movements are so intertwined. Their song “Toledo Surprise” truly showcases these two actor’s talents, and it is one of the highlights of the production.

One of the other stand-out numbers of the show is definitely the fabulous tap dance from Clyde Alves, portraying Robert, and Tim Falter, playing George. This is an extremely impressive piece that continues to build and build. The energy that these two bring to the dance is nothing short of explosive. Applause to choreographer Chris Bailey for this memorable moment.

Howard Jones, Scenic Designer, really transforms Goodspeed’s stage. There are moving set pieces that flow so as to make the setting changes seamless. It is a delight to see the almost life-size front of an airplane, recognized by theater goers as the most identifiable set piece to this musical. Kirk Bookman does a marvelous job on lights, really capturing the focus and mood of the scenes. Gregg Barnes completely succeeds in his costume designs. Especially impressive is Janet Van de Groff’s quick change onstage during her number, “Show Off.” Additionally, Mark Adam Rampmeyer is spot-on with his realistic wigs and hair design. Music Direction by Michael O’Flaherty scores with beautiful harmonies.

I definitely recommend seeing this musical and am confident that you’ll be entertained. There is nothing sleepy about The Drowsy Chaperone.

Tickets available at https://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2018/the-drowsy-chaperone.

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