Aired on KSDS-FM on 8/25/17
RUN DATES: 8/4/17 – 8/27/17
VENUE: Premiere Productions at the Welk Resort Theatre
Think of all the tropes and memes, stock characters and recurrent situations of musical theater. They all pop up in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
There’s a handsome but bland leading man, a narcissistic leading lady, a Continental Lothario, a grumbling Broadway producer, a ditzy chorine, a butler and a pair of comically punning gangsters, all involved in mistaken identity, spit-takes, theater in-jokes and an on-again-off-again wedding.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” – drowsy meaning ‘drunk,’ is a fictional 1928 tuner that serves as the musical-within-a-musical framework of the show of the same name that won five Tony Awards in 2006.
Our guide, narrator and chief explicator, who sets it all in motion has no name; he’s just known as Man in Chair, a shlumpy, middle-aged, depressed, factoid-filled musical theater fanatic.
He takes out a vinyl LP and introduces us to his favorite show of all time: “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a wild, spoofy romp about a Broadway star giving up her career for the man she loves – even though she barely knows him. Her frantic producer will do anything to get her back. Same with the two gangsters, posing as pastry chefs, who represent the show’s major investor.
Originally written as a lark for a stag party in 1997, the musical was revised by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with a lively score by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It’s supremely silly, but often clever, wacky fun.
Premiere Productions is giving the show a colorful, energetic airing at the Welk, with direction and choreography by the redoubtable Ray Limon.
The talent is somewhat inconsistent, and the Man in Chair could be louder and funnier, but the singing is excellent overall. There’s plenty of scenery-chewing, but that’s built into the show, which concludes with a quartet of marriages.
The Man in Chair may remain a pathetic, agoraphobic kvetch, but the show that comes to life in his shabby living room never fails to cheer him up and transport him to another world. And that, he insists, is what musical theater is all about.
©2017 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews