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The Drowsy Chaperone

a Musical Comedy
by Book - Bob Martin & Don McKellar; Songs - Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4437

SHOWING : March 14, 2013 - April 14, 2013



This recent Broadway hit pays tribute to the Jazz‑Age shows of the 1920’s that lifted our spirits during the Great Depression. When a die‑hard musical theatre fan plays his favorite cast album on his turntable, the musical literally bursts to life in his living room. A brazen Broadway starlet’s wedding day is complicated by a motley crew of zany guests, including a gin‑soaked chaperone assigned to keep a watchful eye over the bride. Winner of 5 Tony® Awards.

Music Director Ann-Carol Pence
Director Anne Towns
Choreographer Jen MacQueen
Robert Martin Greg Bosworth
Janet Van de Graaff Liberty Cogen
Mr. Feldzieg Bart Hansard
Man in Chair Steven L. Hudson
Gangster #1 John Markowski
George Nicholas Morrett
Trix the Aviatrix Xylina Nuckles
Underling Brandon Odell
The Drowsy Chaperone Courtney Patterson
Aldolpho Anthony Rodriguez
Kitty Caitlin Smith
Mrs. Tottendale Holly Stevenson
Gangster #2 Austin Tijerina
Ensemble Jonathan Wierenga
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A Rousing Chaperone
by playgoer
Friday, March 29, 2013
"The Drowsy Chaperone" is ostensibly a record album come to life. The Man in Chair plays a 1920's musical cast album for us, and the musical itself starts playing in front of our eyes. With some of Atlanta's best musical talent onstage, the show is stunningly performed. There are no weak links.

Anne Towns has directed the show with bold strokes, letting the actors chew scenery with aplomb. It's bright, breezy, loony, and all-around fun. Ann-Carol Pence's musical direction is excellent, as always, and Jen MacQueen's choreography is pleasing and energetic. Elizabeth Rasmusson's costumes, Karin Craven's wigs, Maclare Park's props, and Bill Tilley's lights all add to the effect. The one sore thumb in the costume/wig department is the Civil War-era hair and dress given to Mrs. Tottendale (Holly Stevenson). She might be a little behind the times, but the time period differential is jarring to see.

While Daniel Terry's sound design relies too heavily on amplification, it's Phil Male's set design that is the biggest disappointment of the production. We are supposedly in the apartment of the Man in Chair, and the show is devised to have the action physically break through the walls. Here, it doesn't. The Man in Chair is given the far downright corner of the stage, in front of the curtain. No walls are broken through; instead, the curtain is lifted as the 1920's action starts. The set uses few 1920's scenery conventions, so it adds little of a period feel. The art deco fan design covering the upstage area is another misstep. It seems intended to fill up the high proscenium, which is a lazy design choice, and it also hides the orchestra. The Aurora usually puts the orchestra in view, and here it might have been effective to see the music-makers on a replica phonograph high upstage. They sound fabulous (so flawless that some might be tempted to believe a recording is being used), but the set design and let's-mix-it-up-and-blast-everything-through-the-speakers sound design prevent them from taking their deserved credit.

It's hard to pick any standouts in the cast, due to its overall high quality. Austin Tijerina's gymnastics are notable. So are Xylina Nuckles' vocals and Courtney Patterson's, well, everything. I was particularly impressed with Steve Hudson's ad-lib-sounding asides as the Man in Chair, which tie the show together. It's entertaining, no doubt. I don't know if the fire that destroyed costume and set storage just before opening affected any design choices, but the show definitely falls down on the design side, more than making up for those shortcomings with a collection of sparkling, tuneful performances. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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