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The Drowsy Chaperone
a A Musical Within a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Book by Bob Martin & Don McKellar; M&L by Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison

COMPANY : Broadway Across America [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Fabulous Fox [WEBSITE]
ID# 2681

SHOWING : January 22, 2008 - January 27, 2008

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Settle back with "Man in Chair" as he takes us back to the 1920's and party with "The Drowsy Chaperone," a faux musical that will lift your heart and make you laugh.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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A Stake Through the Funny Bone
by Dedalus
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
5.0
You know, I think it’s time to put a stake through the heart of the “shallow but fun” school of theatrical criticism. You know what I mean! “This was a guilty pleasure for me!” “I’m so ashamed I liked this!” “A Zillion Laughs a Minute, but is it Art?” The reasoning behind this is a very pedantic “It must be deep if it’s going to be remembered” paradigm. The problem with this is that it’s not especially valid (Aristophanes, anyone? Plautus?). It also blinds the pedant to depths that can be deceptively delicious.

Take “The Drowsy Chaperone” (but leave enough for the rest of us). On its surface, it’s a frothy 20’s style confection, tuneful, funny, and diverting. In a move to “have my fun, but criticize it too,” the thing is framed by a contemporary “Man in Chair” commenting on the play and being uplifted (literally) by it. So, we hear him relish the stereotypes of the stock characters, but see him berate us for doing the same thing to him. We hear him pointing out the banality of a set of lyrics, but see him in a transport of ecstasy as they’re being sung.

And, true to form, our friends at the AJC describe it as being “high in giddy empty calories” (a nice turn-of-phrase, though, but I digress …). In my somewhat less-than-humble opinion, these calories are anything but empty.

Point – I don’t think the main theme – Theatre can and does lift our spirits and make our shabby boring petty lives actually fun – can be called “empty” at all. I think I made the same point many years ago in my pseudo-review of “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”

Point – The commentary of the “Man in the Chair” gives of some 20th-century theatrical history along with it’s faux stuff, making real points on how tastes and attitudes have changed over the years. If his commentary on current musicals is a tad blithe and shallow, it is certainly true to his character?

Point – The “Man in Chair” has real problems and real depth, both of which are underscored by the counterpoint of the “Musical within the Comedy.”

Point – The design never let’s us forget that we’re in the “Man in Chair’s” world – having him “set the scenes,” having the Musical characters enter through his refrigerator, having the cast reproduce all the skips and tics of his old LP turntable. It all reminds us that something is being said here, and should not be as blithely dismissed as MIC dismisses contemporary theatre.

Didn’t you just love the irony that MIC has depth, but no name, while the musical characters had names, but no depth? Isn’t it fun how Jonathan Crombie has developed since his “Anne of Green Gables” days (and, no I didn’t see the original MIC and thought Mr. Crombie was fine and carried the show quite well, thank you very much)? Didn’t Georgia Engel make you giggle with delight every time she opened her mouth? Didn’t you just love the delicious parody of the “What is it About the Asians” interlude? Didn’t you just love the faux scrapbook of the souvenir program but avoid the overpriced souvenir LP? Don’t you just hate it that the show breezed in and out of town so quickly?

I, for one, can’t wait to see it again.

I, for one, am not at all ashamed of that.

When all is said and done, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is like a stake through the funny bone. It makes its points, makes you laugh, and moves on. And, “empty calories” or not, I can’t get its songs and people out of my head.

Take that, you clueless pedants (if any of you are out there)!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Dead. On. by EricMc
I saw this show in New York a couple of years ago, and must say that your review of this first national tour reads as a carbon copy of my own opinion of the Broadway production.

I found it to be SUCH a smart show. It is difficult to simultaneously revere and parody a genre, and "Drowsy" does it soooo perfectly. I'm typically repulsed by the whole "just a good, clean, fun escapist evening of theater" idea, but this show really touches something else in the audience.

And I agree: what's up with one stupid week in town? I would have KILLED to see Nancy Opel play Beatrice Stockwell, but couldn't make it work. That show needed a sit-down engagement.


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